1893 text

According to the original Statutes of Corpus Christi Coll. Oxon, a Scholar slept in a truckle bed below each Fellow. Called also “a trindle bed.” Compare Hall’s description of an obsequious tutor:

He lieth in a truckle bed While his young master lieth o’er his head.

Satires, ii. 6, 5.

The bed was drawn in the daytime under the high bed of the tutor. See Wordsworth’s “University Life in the Eighteenth Century.” — M. B.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

4 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

truckle bed, trundle bed

"a low bed, so called from the trundles, or casters, that were attached to the feet so that it could be pushed under the master bed when it was not in use. The bed was intended for servants, who used to sleep in their employer's room so as to be near at hand. The framework was generally of oak, and suspension was provided by leather or canvas straps"

General historical info on beds:
"The History Of The Four Poster Bed"

Grahamt  •  Link

Truckle bed is everyday English. Search Google and you will find hundreds of links for bed shops selling them today.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Another type of bed that isn't common today is the Wardrobe, or box, bed:

At a museum in Wick, in the north of Scotland, is what looks like a large pine wardrobe, with a pair of full-length double doors at the front. It wouldn't look out of place in a modern bedroom. It's assembled like regular flat-pack furniture – each piece slots together, so it can easily be moved and rebuilt.
But this cupboard is not for storing clothes; there are no hangers or shelves inside. This is a box bed – and it's designed to hold sleeping people.

Otherwise known as a closet bed or close bed, the box bed was surprisingly popular across Europe from the medieval era to the early 20th Century. These heavy pieces of furniture were made of wood that contained a bed. Some were plain and humble; others were elaborately decorated, with carved, panelled or painted sides. Often the cupboards had doors that closed, or a little curtained window. The fanciest had a variety of uses, with bonus drawers and a seat at their base.

For centuries, farm-workers, fish-gutters, and even members of the nobility would crawl inside these cosy wooden dens at night, and shut themselves in.
Often, they were used almost as miniature bedrooms, spillover places for people to sleep where there otherwise wouldn't be enough space.

In 1890 a family living in the Scottish Highlands was too large for their single-room house, so some members slept in a box bed in the barn, amongst the dogs and horses, according to the Wick Society.

It was also common to use box beds for migrant workers, such as for the overflow of herring-gutters who descended on the region of Wick during the fishing season, with 5 or 6 people sharing a bed.

Sharing a box bed with family members or co-workers was not unusual. In the 1825 melodrama "The Factory Lad", workers slept in stacks of box beds, with 2 or 3 people in each one.
Some had holes for ventilation, but cramming too many people in may have carried a risk of suffocation – one tale from 13th-Century France involves a woman hiding 3 secret guests inside a bed, who then perish in its stuffy interior.

Box beds were used by a wide section of society in Britain and on the continent, including farmers, fisherpeople and members of the nobility.
According to one account from 1840, most cottages in Brittany, France, included them, which were typically made from oak and piled up to 4 ft (1.2m) high with bedding. There might be several to a room, and each one would have a long wooden chest placed at their base.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


There was a further benefit to these sleeping boxes: warmth.
Without modern heating or insulation, in the winter bedrooms could be literally freezing; it was standard practice to go to bed wearing a cap, so only your face was exposed.
It was significantly colder then. Roger Ekirch, a university distinguished professor of history at Virginia Tech, and the author of "At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime", explains that from the 14th to the 19th Century, Europe and portions of North America experienced the Little Ice Age. In London, the Thames froze over on 18 occasions. "Diaries spoke of sap from burning logs in fireplaces freezing as soon as it seeped from the bare ends... inkwells would freeze overnight," he says.
This not only made bedmates an appealing prospect, but also sleeping in the sheltered environment of a box bed where warm air became trapped was welcome.

The box bed eventually became associated with poverty and country life, and fell out of fashion. By the mid-20th Century they were rare. However, similar pieces of furniture are making a comeback, so it's possible to buy bed tents, which turn sleeping areas into snug caves, while wooden sleeping "nooks" that look like box beds are being sold for "cottage style" homes.

Excerpted from https://www.bbc.com/future/articl…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • May