From the earliest modern times beds were considered one of the grantest status symbols and were often commissioned as a conspicuous display of taste, power and wealth. This fashion reached its zenith in the late 17th and early 18th centuries with the establishment of the 'state bedroom' as the culmination of the enfilade of state rooms in any great house. The format of these state rooms, intended to be kept in readiness for a visit from the head of state, echoed the royal apartments used by the monarch at court where the height of honour bestowed on those admitted was denoted by how deeply into the series of chambers they progressed. Only the most intimately trusted courtiers would reach the monarch's bed chamber and thereby witness the splendour of the royal bed.
The term angel bed is used to describe beds with a suspended canopy, where the canopy appears to float ‘like an angel’. The employment of this sophisticated technique, combined with the flamboyance of the carving indicate that this would have been a very costly bed at the time it was made and would most likely been intentded as a 'state bed'. The confirmation of the canopy remains ostensibly as it was when commissioned although the bed frame has been reconfigured with the addition of a foot board incorporating carving probably borrowed from the headboard, which would have been higher and would likely have originally been connected to the lofty canopy by a rigid backcloth. In the 17th and 18th centuries textiles were amongst the most expensive commodities available and so beds, such as this, were entirely covered in expensive fabrics as a lavish display of status and the bed would additionally have originally been hung with almost full length curtains to the four corners. Whilst printed cotton such as that to this bed did exist in the early 18th century, a trace of crimson fabric was discovered to the canopy suggesting that the bed was likely originally hung with red damask.
Whilst it has not been possible to trace the exact origin of this bed it is known to have been sold from the collection of the Gladstone family at Hawarden Castle, Flintshire. In the 16th century Broadlane Hall was built for the Ravenscroft family in the shadow of the medieval Hawarden Old Castle which survives today as a ruin. In the mid-18th century a new house was constructed to the north which forms the core of what is now known as Hawarden Castle. In the early 19th century the estate was inherited by Sir Stephen Glynne, 8th Bt. and he and the 9th Bt. (also Sir Stephen) made substantial changes Gothicising the building and creating the basic outline as it is today. It is highly likely that this bed would have been reconfigured and the present delicate printed chintz added as part of the refurbishments for the 9th Baronet who, as a renowned antiquarian, would likely have recognised the value of this bed as an ‘heirloom’ worthy of preservation. Sir Stephen’s sister, Catherine Glynne had married the future British Prime Minister in 1839 and so on the death of the unmarried Sir Stephen in 1874 the estate passed to the Gladstone family who still live there today.