According to well-recorded family tradition, the crewel-work elements of this bed were worked by three unmarried sisters of the Herrick family, who survived on coffee alone and literally worked themselves to death stitching. The 18th century house at Beaumanor (1725-7 by John Westley) was destroyed or demolished in 1841 and replaced by a Jacobean style house by William Railton. Pevsner comments that the 1840s house echoes the original Jacobean house that had itself been replaced in the 1720s. It seems probable that the main restorations and changes to this bed occurred in the 1840s, as the type of lower bed frame used is of that period. Beaumanor was a famous outstation of Bletchley Park in the Second World War and was sold by the vendor's family soon after 1945.
The beautifully embroidered bed is hung in silk and conceived in the Louis Quatorze fashion, with an abundance of flowers evoking the Roman concept of Ver Perpetuum, or everlasting Spring. Its festive garlands of fruit and flowers symbolise Peace and Plenty and combine with exotically-plumed birds to celebrate the Elements, recalling Hesiod's philosophy of Love.
Its stately-canopied headboard displays a plumed, foliated and scalloped aigret crowning a triumphal-arched and veil-draped pediment, whose Ionic wave-scrolled Roman trusses are fringed with rich passementerie in the Parisian manner popularised in the late 17th century by the engraved Oeuvre of Daniel Marot (d. 1752), 'architect' to William III and issued in his Nouveaux Livre d'Ornements, 1702 and his Second Livre d'Appartements.
Its paradise birds introduce the exotic character of 'India' chintzes and the imports of the East India Companies. A phoenix, symbolising the element of Fire, inhabits the trussed cartouche displayed on the flower-sprigged canopy, while peacocks and hens perch in the spandrels.
The Arcadian fertility deity Pan is recalled by its ribbon-guilloched frame comprised of flowered and antique-fretted reed gadroons; while the inner pelmets are festooned with flower and fruit garlands, symbolising the Spring and Harvest deities Flora, Ceres and Bacchus. Bacchic vines are accompanied by pomegranates, which signify fecundity and are sacred to the Spring goddess Proserpine, daughter of Ceres. Its passementerie includes bowed ribbons and tassles. The canopy is echoed by the ornament of the coverlet and its pendants, whose golden yellow (now faded to ivory) silk was quilted in flowered lozenge trellis recalling Rome's Temple of Venus, as popularised by Antoine Desgodetz's Edifices de Rome, 1682. Its central lozenged compartment displays a phoenix encircled by a golden ribbon and garlands comprised of sprigs of Love's lilies and roses, sacred to Venus.
The bed, which is now displayed in antiquarian fashion with later accretions and repairs, celebrates marriage and possibly the union of the Curzon and Herrick families. The latter were famed since the publication of Robert Herrick's Hesperides or The Works of both Humanes and Devine of Robert Herrick, which appeared in 1648.