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Get Beds Prepared

I promise to return to the topic of gentleman ushers, but I’ve another tasty morsel to share before we resume the feature attraction.

The Great Bed of Ware

Ben Jonson’s The New Inn tells the story of an innkeeper, who is a disguised nobleman named Lord Frampul. He runs the inn with his man Fly. I’ve mentioned The New Inn here, Rambler’s posts on that play are here.

Echoing Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage”, the host of the inn imagine’s it as a place where “all the world’s a play.”  The inn is a metaphor for theater.

Act I,iii

At the end of the play, Frampul gives the inn to his servant, Fly. “you are master now o’ the inn.”  They were gipsies (actors) together he says.  He tells Fly, Get beds prepared.”

Act V,v

 Speaking of Jonson and beds, in Epicoene Jonson mentions The Bed of Ware, a great bed that was a tourist attraction at an inn in Ware. The bed is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Here’s the mention.


The bed of Ware is also mentioned in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. 


These two stories come together knowing that the host of the inn in Ware who had the bed was Nicholas Bleake, who had been a servant of Edward de Vere in 1580, and later acted as attorney for the earl. Bleake was also a mapmaker. There is speculation that Bleake acquired the bed from Vere when Vere was liquidating assets to raise funds.

The name of the inn lord Frampul gives to his man, Fly in the play  is The Light Heart.
The name of the inn in Ware hosted by Vere’s former servant was The White Hart.

Link to the Bed of Ware page.

more anon.


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