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Shelley Munro talks bedrooms!

Today's first guest is fellow author Shelley Munro with a topic close to many of our hearts - The Bedroom! :)


Roll Over! Beds & Bedroom Through History

Happy birthday, Clare, and thanks for inviting me to share the celebration for your special day.

The other day I picked up a copy of IF WALLS COULD TALK, an Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley. It’s a fascinating read, full of all those small social details that we often don’t hear about when we’re reading about history.

Here are a selection of things I’ve learned about beds and bedrooms.

1. Medieval people led more communal lives than us. At night they would sleep in the great hall, glad of the safe place of rest. The hall reeked of smoke and body odor, but it was safer than sleeping outside.

2. Medieval people who held jobs within the manor would sleep in their place of work. e.g. laundry maids would sleep in the laundry and the kitchen lads would sleep next to the fire in the kitchens.

3. A bed during medieval times usually consisted of hay stuffed in a sack, hence the saying hitting the hay.

4. A big bed would be shared, sometimes with strangers. Customs and etiquette developed regarding the communal bed. Families would lie in order of birth. If guests came to visit and stayed overnight, the father and mother would sleep in the middle of the bed between their children and strangers to prevent any naughtiness during the night.

5. The lord and lady of a manor would sleep in an adjoining room called the chamber or solar. It was a multi-function room but it usually contained a wooden bed.

6. During Tudor times the four-poster bed was the most expensive item in the house.

7. Tudor four-posters had bed strings on which the mattress sat. These would sag under the weight of the bed’s occupant and required constant tightening. This is where the expression, “Night, night, sleep tight.” comes from.

8. Housewives would accumulate lots of bed linen, enough to last a month so that laundry only needed to be done once a month. I’m glad I’m not responsible for the laundry!

9. During the 17th century bedrooms were on the upper floor. They led off each other, which meant the owner of the first bedroom had people trooping through all the time to get to the rest of the bedrooms. That would make for a restful night…

10. Corridors appeared toward the end of the 17th century, which meant the Georgians started to treat their bedrooms as more private spaces than those people of earlier ages. Their bedrooms were used as social rooms where they received special friends, conducted business and study.

11. During Victorian times privacy became paramount. Even husbands and wives had separate bedrooms and bedroom activities were confined to sleeping and sex.

12. Bedclothes consisted of many layers of sheets, blankets and eiderdowns until the 1970s and the introduction of the duvet. I, for one, am glad of this invention. Bedmaking takes mere seconds each morning.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I get to have a modern bedroom with my own bed. Sharing it with hubby—no problem. That seems minor when I think of those medieval great halls!

What does your dream bed/bedroom look like?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious puppy. She writes romance in various genres for Ellora’s Cave, Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. Her next release is a contemporary mystery, CAT BURGLAR IN TRAINING, due out on 20 Feb from Carina Press. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her Website.


From Clare: Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Fancy writing something for the visitors this month? It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.
I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).


FOLLOW the Birthday Blog so far:
Jan 09: Lee Rowan shares her healthy resolution.
Jan 10: Rowena Sudbury and the beauty of a blue moon.
Jan 10: Sandra Lindsay and her WIP characters.

Jan 01: luscious_words shares some fabulous icons.
Jan 02: Jordan Castillo Price shares her experience of re-releasing books.
Jan 03: Mara Ismine wonders how important is continuity in fiction?
Jan 04: Jen shares her favourite Rom Com movies.
Jan 05: Karenna Colcroft introduces her unusual werewolf.
Jan 06: Stevie Carroll takes us on a pictorial tour of her favourite locations.
Jan 07: Tinnean quotes Jack Benny on age.
Jan 07: Josie makes a brave leap into a scary sport.
Jan 08: Elin Gregory finds inspiration at every turn.

Check up on:
Prior years fun HERE and
The 2012 Guest schedule HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2012 12:37 pm (UTC)
That was so cool to learn where those sayings come from. I never really thought about it.

My dream bedroom has a huge, high bed with lots of puffy pillows and comforters. I'd love to have a reading nook with a nice chaise lounge, warm cozy colors, kind of dark and, not cave-like, but I don't want it bright and sunny, something that makes me feel more cozy and warm.

I can't imagine how big those beds were to have the parents, 2 kids and a guest. LOL
Jan. 11th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
A good bedroom definitely requires some sort of books!
I kept thinking what would happen if someone needed to get up in the middle of the night. It would be chaos and no one would get any sleep. Imagine if one or more people snored.
Jan. 11th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
Interesting! I'd known about bed ropes/strings, but never connected that to "sleep tight." Makes sense, though.

Beds are something that often wind up being the false note in otherwise good stories... I remember reading some romance where the frisky young hero 'bounced' on the bed -- in an era where he'd probably have gone "fwap" on a mattress of hay laid on boards. Ah, well, maybe he had a lot of spring in his bottom...

My dream bedroom would be something on the northwest side of a house, with windows that look out into treetops. If I could turn our present house around 180 degrees, that might almost work...
Jan. 11th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
I learned a lot reading this book. Beds during earlier times sounded like a lot of work. There was much mattress turning and airing - very frequently in Victorian times by the sound of it.

A room with a view sounds wonderful. You've set my imagination going - a sea or mountain view...
Jan. 11th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I didn't realised Ms Worsley had done a book on this subject as well! I watched the BBC series (same title) when it was on a few months back and it was fab!
Jan. 11th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I didn't realize there was a BBC series. We get most of them down here in NZ so I'll watch for it.
Jan. 11th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
I would fit right with the housewives of #8. :) My love of office supplies is only surpassed by my love of bedding. And doormats. And....
Jan. 11th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
LOL - we could be sisters, although don't most writers love office supplies. I thought it was embedded in our DNA.
Jan. 11th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
Shelley - website
My apologies to anyone who wants to visit my website. My site was one of a few hundred that were hacked last week and my webmistress is still fixing things behind scenes. :(
I hope to be live again soon!
Jan. 11th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
I loved Lucy Worsley's TV series that the book came out of, and I've slept in bedrooms that had other bedrooms leading off them. Never bothered me and the other official residents, but sometimes freaked out overnight guests!

Oh, and my ideal bed would be six feet off the floor with bookcases and a desk underneath.

Edited at 2012-01-11 09:18 pm (UTC)
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Are you really tall? A person could hurt themselves falling out of a six foot bed, you know :)
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:57 am (UTC)
I'm quite short, but I have a lot of books and the prospect of at some point moving into a house with smaller rooms but much higher ceilings.
Jan. 11th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'll have to look out for that book or the TV series. Thanks for sharing those interesting facts. I didn't realise those sayings were so old.

I've always had a bedroom of my own and it took a while to learn to share it with Himself in the dim and distant past when we were first married, but the extra warmth at night was a good incentive.

I've always worried about how large families fitted all those children into a couple of rooms at night - a family with seven children lived opposite us when I was growing up in a three bedroom house. My mother-in-law was one of thirteen in an even smaller three-bed house a generation before that.

We tend to forget how cold it used to get before central heating so sleeping with other people was probably welcome. Even if you got a place by the fire old houses are very drafty so you could have living draft excluders. It must have been horrible to be the one on the outside of the huddle farthest from the fire or maybe that was where the dogs slept.

Noses must have been a lot less sensitive back then!

Jan. 12th, 2012 06:43 am (UTC)
Grin, I've found a husband very handy when it comes to warming cold feet.
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:53 am (UTC)
Heh, those are some fun facts! I didn't know all that stuff. Thank you.
My bedroom is boring. Small with a severely aged bed too small to comfortably fit two (though there have been three of us and a dog once), a low bookshelf-turned-general-dumping ground, closets, a cat tree thingy, a chair and hanger buried under clothes, and some bags and boxes with junk. I'm ashamed, now that I think about it. Darn it, I need to clean up. :/
Edit: Oh shit, you were asking about our dream bedroom!!! I can't even read... Well, as above except remove "small", "too small", "dumping ground", "buried under clothes" and "bags and boxes with junk", and there you go! lol.

Nah, I'd kind of like to try a New Mexico style bedroom maybe... if I had the house to put it in. Rustic, but not tackily so. Bookshelf, good reading lamp, somewhere to put clothes overnight that didn't look dingy, and something cool/handsome functioning as a cat tree. Man, now I'm dreaming of a new bedroom!

Edited at 2012-01-12 01:03 am (UTC)
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
How long have we been sharing a bedroom with neither of us knowing it?
Jan. 15th, 2012 01:50 pm (UTC)
*lmao* Oh was that YOU making all the ruckus under the bed the other night?!
Well this certainly explains a few things - like where all the mess and large quantities of clothes is coming from...
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:48 am (UTC)
LOL I could do with a larger bedroom myself. Come to think of it - a maid would come in handy too...
Your dream bedroom sounds nice.
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
What a wonderful post, thank you! I've seen the rope-frame beds on tours of historic Wisconsin homes from the 1800's. They seem very creaky.

I used to think my ideal bed would be recessed in a nook in the wall, but every time I've slept somewhere low-ceilinged (like in a bottom bunk) I've found it creepy and claustrophobic, so I probably wouldn't like that in real life. Also, beds hung with tapestry or mosquito netting look all romantic, but again reality intrudes and I imagine spiders or dust bunnies falling out of the fabric onto me when I flop down into the bed at night.

Maybe what I need is something minimalist with a big cozy platform mattress in the middle of a sparse and restful room. What I have is a bedroom/office full of stacks of listing books and papers. Oh, and if that could be a magical mattress that felt warm at night and cool in the morning, even better.
Jan. 12th, 2012 06:56 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jordan. I'm glad you enjoyed my post.
I don't think I'd like a recessed bed. I'd definitely feel too closed in. LOL - I hear you on the listing piles of stuff. I have those.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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