An important Bed: Conservation and Research
One of the major exhibits in Burghley House is called the Blue Silk Bed, Recent conservation and research has revealed that its origins lie in the 17th century when it started life as the Crimson Velvet Bed.
- Circa 1900
The 1900 photograph shows the bed as it was first described in the 1738 inventory, after alterations made to the 17th century original. By 1900 it was in a bedraggled condition and shortly afterwards the upper outer valances were replaced and the original inner valances covered over with new blue silk, which are still extant in store.
By The 1980’s it was deemed time for another refurbishment, but this time with rather less respect for the original concept and a dark blue moden silk was introduced . The inside of the tester still retained original silk, although badly stained., so that In 2014 when it was decided to move the bed to a more advantageous position in the room and the construction of the tester and cornices was very weak a programme of conservation was undertaken. The cornices covered with worn red velvet were strengthened and the inside tester roof was covered with new blue fabric to match the original colour. The dark blue silk that had been used to cover the backboard and replace the inner valances were left in place. Two years later a further opportunity arose to replace the dark blue with the same colour as the inside of the tester and recreate the festoons that were almost certainly hung between the posts of the backboard . Finally the inner valances were reconstructed using the same blue fabric as thew tester and with the proper shape and fringing.
The head board is still covered with embroidery from around 1700 matching the counterpane, although these would have also been light blue. The figured blue velvet of the outer curtains is probably the last remains of the 5th Marquis’s bed of 1688.