Bed wagons were used throughout history, to ease the chores of a servant, assigned to keep her master’s and mistress’ bed warm. Ofttimes, before the invention of the wagons, warming pans were rushed to and fro, from fireside to bedchamber, and slid between the bed covers to chase away the chill of an unheated room.
With the invention of a bed wagon, the task of bed warming became easier. The contrivance was made of bent hoops, either iron or wood, which held the covers away from the heat, and made the job of warming a large bed less labor-intensive. The frames of bed wagons were usually made of ash, but sometimes of oak. The total length was normally three feet or longer, enough to ensure that most of the bed area was warmed. A pot of burning fuel was placed in a trivet built into the middle of the frame. An iron sheet was attached to the frame, directly beneath the trivet, to prevent any scorching of the bed linens. Above the pot, situated between two of the hoops, another metal sheet guarded against the coverlets catching fire. Sometimes, the pot of fuel was hung from the top of the wagon, suspended in the approximate middle of the frame. Pots could be made of iron, brass, or earthenware, with or without a lid. If unlidded, ashes might cover the surface of the fuel.
Italian and French bed-wagons were commonly called a ‘monk’ or a ‘priest’, no doubt another bed-humor reference like the English joke that a housemaid was a “Scotch warming pan”.
My reading list is an eclectic one, first, because I belong to two book clubs. Secondly, because I need an occasional fix for my historical novel habit, and lastly, because I need to do research for my own writing. Here are my latest reads in no particular order.
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson
Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin
Isabella D'Este: A Study of the Renaissance by Julia Cartwright
All Other Nights by Dara Hora
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Sarah: A Novel by Marek Halter
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Outlaws of Medieval Legend by Maurice Keen
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Without Reservations: The Travels of an
Independent Woman byAlice Steinbach
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to
Santiago by Ashley and Deegan
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
The Miracle of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz