Saddleworth Parish Council: Hands off the King’s crest

SADDLEWORTH PARISH Councillors have refused to handover a decorative shield which is a key piece of a priceless ‘national treasure.’

The carved crest is thought to belong to the first state bed of King Henry VII and his bride, Elizabeth of York, dating back to 1486.

The unique bed currently features in an exhibition at Hever Castle but on a visit to Saddleworth the owner discovered the crest fixed to lintel above a door at Uppermill’s Library.

p5 henry's bed
DEBATE: The crest

Saddleworth’s link to the crest dates to when the bed was bought in 1842 by antiquarian and architect George Shaw from Uppermill.

The bed inspired the exotic Tudor embellishment and decoration of his house, St Chad’s, which is now the Library on High Street.

And before disposing of the bed, Mr Shaw removed the crest from the canopy and placed it above the door to his parlour, where it has remained since.

Ian Coulson, the bed’s owner and a fourposter bed expert, asked the Parish Council to release the artefacts to appear in the exhibition ‘A bed of roses’ at Hever Castle Kent.

But the Council’s Conservation and Planning Committees say the crest should remain in the community.

“It is part of the story of George Shaw, who was responsible for the antique and Gothic appearance of St Chad’s,” they said.

“The bed inspired much of the carving in the building and Mr Shaw’s retention of this component adds much to the historic importance of this surviving Grade Two listed building.”

They added: “A better solution would be to keep the artefact in its existing position and produce a faithful copy, with the necessary additions, which can be reunited with the original bed.”

But Mr Coulson, who bought the bed in an auction several years ago for  £2,200, said: “I’m deeply disappointed.

“The bed is an artefact of the greatest historic and cultural importance and can correctly deemed a national treasure.

“We have gone to great lengths to display the bed at Hever Castle as it would have been seen against the wall of the Painted Chamber.

“The shape, size and content of the royal crest is a critical pin in this visual and intellectual presentation.

“I cannot comprehend the logic to refuse the request to display the royal crest correctly for the nation.

“I shall appeal against this recommendation and hope that common sense will prevail.”

Cllr Mike Buckley, History expert and chair of the Conservation Committee, said: “Research reveals the bed is a genuine Tudor relic and most probably the actual marriage bed made for Henry VII in 1486.

“The request to reunite the panel with the original bed is a difficult decision. The panel has enormous local heritage value.

“On the other hand, a case can be made it rightly belongs on the original bed, an amazing survival of national historic and heritage significance.”

Dr Jonathan Foyle will be giving a lecture on the Tudor bed and its history as part of the Saddleworth Festival of the Arts.

“George Shaw of Saddleworth, the Man who Unwittingly Rescued a Royal Treasure, ” takes place on Saturday, June 13 at Saddleworth Museum, 2pm.  

Tickets cost £10 from Saddleworth Museum or the Saddleworth Festival Ticket Office.

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