A bed that really IS fit for a king! Charles to be offered unique bedroom in Parliament before his coronation in tradition that dates back to William the Conqueror
- Charles may sleep in unique bedroom at Parliament on the eve of his coronation
- Designed by Augustus Pugin, the bed was carved from walnut by John Braund in 1859
He has no shortage of palaces in which to rest his head the night before he is crowned.
But Charles III may also take up the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sleep in a unique bedroom at Parliament on the eve of his coronation.
The Mail can reveal that he is to be offered the use of a bed fit for a king – and which mysteriously went missing – inside the grandest residence in Westminster, ahead of the May 6 ceremony.
The State Bed, within the State Apartments of Speaker’s House, was built to honour the tradition dating back to William the Conqueror that the monarch slept at the Palace of Westminster the night before the coronation in nearby Westminster Abbey.
King Charles III may take up the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sleep in a unique bedroom at Parliament on the eve of his coronation
In 1979, the bed was found when its owners Ron and Wendy Martin admitted they had slept in the national treasure for 20 years – and that their son Benedict was born in it
If the King does sleep at Westminster the night before his coronation, he will be reviving a tradition dating back to William the Conqueror
However, George IV is the only royal to have actually done so at the Speaker’s House, in 1821 – and that was in a different bed. The old Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire in 1834 and their Gothic Revival replacement wasn’t ready for Queen Victoria’s accession.
Designed by Augustus Pugin, the State Bed was carved from walnut by John Braund in 1859. Measuring 12ft high and 7ft 6ins wide, it has a large intricate canopy and gilt inlay and features the royal crest.
It remained in the State Bedroom on the first floor of Speaker’s House until 1943 when it is thought to have been moved into a store. From there, the bed was sold – and forgotten about.
It was only rediscovered decades later in a woollen mill in west Wales after an appeal by the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1979, it was found when its owners Ron and Wendy Martin admitted they had slept in the national treasure for 20 years – and that their son Benedict was born in it – at their manor house in Northamptonshire. They then moved to a cottage in Maesllyn, Ceredigion – where the bed was too large. So they stored it in the mill nextdoor.
The couple had bought the bed for less than £100 at an auction in the 1950s but turned down an offer from the Government of an estimated £5,000 for it. But they sold it in 1981 and it was restored with cash from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
About 1,500 members of the public will get to see the State Bed ahead of the coronation as tickets have just gone on sale for tours of the State Apartments between April 1 and 15. And last night, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: ‘Visitors to Speaker’s House are always surprised when they see this huge, beautifully carved bed with its embroidered fabric, and hear about its fascinating history. We believe that it was stored away with other heritage furniture during the Second World War to keep it safe from bombing raids, which destroyed the House of Commons Chamber in 1941.
‘The fact that something as big as this could go “missing” and end up in a Welsh woollen mill years later seems quite incredible, but it just adds to the intrigue surrounding the bed. It really is a national treasure, and I am delighted even more people will be able to see it during tours of Speaker’s House.’
Book tickets at: ukparliament.seetickets.com/timeslot/the-state-apartments -of-speaker-s-house-tour
Designed by Augustus Pugin, the State Bed was carved from walnut by John Braund in 1859
King Charles III’s coronation: A timeline
The King and Queen Consort will proceed to Westminster Abbey for the coronation ceremony.
After the ceremony they will take part in a second procession to Buckingham Palace, before appearing on the balcony.
Britons are encouraged to hold street parties and take part in the Big Lunch.
A celebratory concert will take place at Windsor Castle, featuring an exclusive performance from the Coronation Choir.
An extra bank holiday has been scheduled for May 8.
Members of the public are encouraged to spend time volunteering for charity as part of the Big Help Out.
Queen Elizabeth II pictured at her coronation in 1953 holding the Orb and sceptre while wearing the Imperial state crown
Tradition that dates back to the Conqueror
If the King does sleep at Westminster the night before his coronation, he will be reviving a tradition dating back to William the Conqueror.
In medieval times, the old Palace of Westminster was the usual place for the monarch to sleep in London.
After Henry VIII moved to the Palace of Whitehall – leaving Westminster to be used as the Houses of Parliament – some still made use of the bed in the king’s private chamber at Westminster.
Others chose to sail down the Thames from Whitehall before walking to Westminster Abbey for the service.
In 1795 the Speaker of the Commons was given his first official residence in the Palace of Westminster as the Commons’ role became more significant.
George IV was the first – and last – sovereign to sleep in the Speaker’s House the night before his coronation in 1821. His coronation banquet ended with guests becoming unruly and tipsy.
His successor, his austere brother William IV, chose not to have anything to do with Westminster for his coronation in 1831.
The Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire in 1834 so staying there was not an option for Queen Victoria in 1838. She and all future monarchs stayed at Buckingham Palace.