A medieval four-poster bed dumped in a Chester car park has been confirmed as the marriage bed of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York so could be worth a reported £20m.
Builders converting the Redland House Hotel in Hough Green, Chester, left the dismantled bed in the car park ready for collection by auctioneers, with everyone oblivious as to its true value.
Four poster bed specialist Ian Coulson from Northumberland spotted the item online, which was listed as 19th-century gothic revival, then placed a winning telephone bid for £2,200. But when Mr Coulson unpacked it, he was astonished.
So began two years’ extensive research which revealed it to be the earliest royal bed in the country and one of the most significant artefacts of early Tudor history.
Now DNA tests have backed up the story which could mean national newspaper reports suggesting the bed is worth £20m are correct.
TV historian Dr Jonathan Foyle says DNA testing of the timber has proved that all samples are European oak and of a sub-species ‘typical of the origin of the finest, slow-grown oak imported by the medieval elites’. Dr Foyle says the age of the bed is revealed by the remains of its historic paintwork.
“Under the varnish, traces of late medieval decoration have been found,” he explained.
Experts believe the ‘spectacularly carved’ bed belonged to Henry VII, who defeated Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field and whose remains were coincidentally found in a car park and re-interred at Leicester Cathedral last week.
The headboard depicts Adam and Eve in likeness of the King and Queen, surrounded by the fruits of paradise which would symbolise fertility and the couple’s hope for an heir, giving rise to its name, The Paradise State Bed.
And the four poster could indeed be the very bed in which the king’s second son Henry VIII was conceived. He founded The King's School in the city 1541 following the dissolution of St Werburgh's Abbey, which became Chester Cathedral.
The medieval bed is included in an exhibition called A Bed of Roses at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, at Hever Castle in Kent which also features a portrait of Henry VIII as a young man.
The bed is on display in the Long Gallery until November 22, 2015.
For more information and opening times visit www.hevercastle.co.uk.