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Bed - The Badminton Bed
  • The Badminton Bed
    John Linnell, born 1729 - died 1796
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The Badminton Bed

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Berkeley Square, England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1754 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Linnell, born 1729 - died 1796 (probably, designer and maker)
    William Linnell, born 1698 - died 1763 (probably, designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Beechwood, japanned in red, yellow and blue and gilded

  • Museum number:

    W.143:1 to 26-1921

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 52d, case 4

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Object Type
The exotic form of this bed was inspired by Chinese pagodas. The design and the pierced fretwork back are similar to garden tea pavilions built in the Chinese style and found in large gardens throughout Britain and Europe from abouat 1730. Chinese decoration was particularly popular for ladies' bedrooms and dressing rooms.

Although the payments for the bed and other bedroom furniture were made jointly by the 4th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, evidence in the Duchess's private notebooks shows that she was particularly interested in this commission and probably discussed the details with the designer and craftsman John Linnell and his father William Linnell.

Ownership & Use
The bed hangings had been replaced with scarlet woollen hangings by 1835, although the bedding still included the original 18th century hair mattress which was acquired with the bed by the Museum in 1921. In addition there was a feather bed, three blankets, a wool mattress, a straw paliasse (another form of mattress) and a Marsella quilt. In 1929 a replica of the bed was made for the Chinese Bedroom at Badminton House by Angell of Bath.

Physical description

Bed in the Chinese style, with slender carved posts and a fretted backboard holding up an elaborate tester in the shape of a pagoda surmounted by gilded dragons. One wing of the dragon on the front right as you look at the bed has been replaced by the museum.

Place of Origin

Berkeley Square, England (probably, made)


ca. 1754 (made)


John Linnell, born 1729 - died 1796 (probably, designer and maker)
William Linnell, born 1698 - died 1763 (probably, designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Beechwood, japanned in red, yellow and blue and gilded


Height: 393 cm, Width: 241.5 cm maximum, Depth: 257 cm maximum

Object history note

Commissioned by the 4th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort for the Chinese bedroom at Badminton House, South Gloucestershire. Probably designed and supplied by the workshops of William and John Linnell, Berkeley Square, London

Descriptive line

Bed carved, japanned and gilded in the Chinese style by Linnell, English, about 1754

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Eden, Mary and Carrington, Richard. The Philosophy of the Bed London: Hutchinson, 1961 Plate 9
Illustration only

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The elaborate carved and 'japanned' fretwork and the tall pagoda-shaped canopy guarded by gilt dragons make this one of the most imposing examples of English Chinoiserie. The original chintz hangings do not survive and there is no record of their appearance. These hangings are based on 18th-century designs but the fabric is undecorated. On one side, the bed is left without curtains to show the decoration of the frame. [27/03/2003]


Beech wood


Carved; Japanning; Oil gilding; Water gilding

Subjects depicted



Household objects; Furniture; British Galleries

Collection code


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