This program will reveal that while today some areas are intensely private spheres, the royal bedchamber was once a very public sphere with huge political consequence. Not only was it the site for royal marriage ceremonies, but royal births were also traditionally observed there by a crowd in order to verify the baby’s gender. As Lucy will reveal, since everyone felt that they had a stake in it, the process of creating royal babies also often took place in a semi-public context.
Lucy will look at the creation of private chambers, as a reaction to the overwhelmingly public nature of royal bedrooms. She will also explore the backstairs politics that developed as a result, and the creation of highly influential serving positions such as ‘Necessary Woman’ and ‘Groom of the Stool’. Lucy will examine the increasingly lavish design of royal state beds and the huge expense that went into these beds, which were never even slept in.
Lucy will also examine the phenomenon that was the state bed found in aristocratic stately homes all over the country. The most expensive items in the house, these were status symbols reserved for potential royal visits, though there was no guarantee that the monarch would even show up!