A couple of weeks ago, I visited Montpelier, the eighteenth and nineteenth century home of the Madison family, including President James Madison, one of the framers of the U.S. Constitution.
Last week I shared pictures of the Argand lamps there. This week I have pictures of the fabulous beds and the bed hangings that kept out cold drafts. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you might be interested in seeing how the rich and famous of Colonial America (and probably the mother country, England) slept.
Oh, and Montpelier doesn’t allow flash photography, so I’ve tried to brighten these as much as possible without distorting the colors.
The fabulous hooped cupola and rich red bed curtains make this a bed fit for an ex-president.
I forgot to ask the docent if they based the tasteful and feminine fabric selections in Dolley’s room on historical sources. It was the largest single-occupant bedchamber in the house, and supposedly Dolley entertained close female friends there while the men congregated elsewhere.
John Payne Todd
Dolley’s son from her first marriage, John Payne Todd, resided at Montpelier as well. Note the coat on the bench at the foot of the bed: the docent said this is a Regency style coat made to Todd’s recorded measurements.
Handsome, but troubled, Todd gave his mother and stepfather a run for their money. Literally. If you or anyone you know has ever had to deal with difficult offspring, you’re in good company with James and Dolley.
A Guest Bed
This narrow bed in Madison’s large study was available for overnight guests. We thought the peach color on the walls looked very modern, but the docent said it’s authentic to the period.
Underneath the beautiful linens…
This one bedchamber open to visitors but not part of the guided tour held all three of these beds. Instead of slats and box springs, mattresses sat upon rope supports. We found this fold-up bed with the rolled mattress interesting.
The last stop for us was this bedchamber where guests could test the bed, and I’m guessing they stuffed their mattresses with feathers like my grandparents did. When I was very young, we used to visit their farm and occasionally spend the night. Born in the late 1800s, my grandparents slept on this type of lumpy and uneven mattress.
Pretty as these bedchambers are, I’m thankful for modern mattresses and central heating!
P.S. I’ve been misspelling something. Mrs. Madison was “Dolley”! “Dolly” is a brand name for snack cakes. Who knew?!