Traditional mattress

Very often when potential customers call us, they say “ I want a really good traditional mattress”. So what does that mean? In a world where so much is disposable we forget that beds and mattresses were heirloom items right up to the 19th Century. If you were rich then from the 14th century on you would have slept in a grand four poster bed with a feather mattress, but if you were poor it was more likely to be a straw mattress on the floor.

Beds and bedding were highly prized and it wasn’t unusual for them to be found in wills. . A well-to-do but middling family might have one featherbed and feather bolster to pass on, while some of the wealthiest people could leave their descendants several beds with complete sets of expensive hangings and fine bedding. Even woollen mattresses were important enough to be passed on as a bequest in some families. One mid-15th century inventory of a smallholder’s possessions shows that he had “three boards for a bed”, a sheet and pillows” but sadly no mention of a mattress!

By the 1800’s featherbeds were something that ordinary people could aspire to but it helped greatly if they kept geese or ducks because you needed something like 50lbs of feathers to make a comfortable mattress. Emigrants to America went with their featherbeds safely stowed in their luggage and you’d count yourself as being really lucky if you inherited one from a family member. Heals of London used to sell feathers by the pound to enable people to buy enough feathers to make their own mattress.

Nowadays a traditional mattress is largely taken to mean a mattress made using natural materials which has been put together by hand, and that’s what we specialise in. Abaca mattresses use the best of natural and organic materials and every mattress is hand made by our skilled staff. We don’t make feather mattresses yet, but who knows what may happen in the future!