A rope bed without its mattresses etc.

A rope bed is a type of platform bed in which the sleeper (and mattress) is supported by a lattice of rope, rather than wooden slats.

In cold climates, a rope bed would be topped with one or more insulating pailasses or bedticks, which would traditionally be stuffed with straw, chaff, or down feathers. It might also have a canopy hung with warm curtains.[1][2] Modernly, they may be topped by a thin futon (a form of bedtick) or other roll-up mattress[3] (see mattress topper).

In the sixteenth century (England?), bedmats of woven or plaited rush were often laid on the widely-spaced ropes, and the bedticks were laid on the mats. This stopped them from bulging between the ropes.[4]

Rope beds need to be tightened regularly (with a bed wrench, and sometimes with wedges) as they sag. They must also be re-strung occasionally; re-stringing reduces sag and evens out wear.[5][3][6] When fully or partly unstrung, rope beds can be packed flat for transport.[3] The need to tighten bedcords has been said to be the origin of the English phrase "sleep tight", [4] but some etymologists disagree.[7]

See also

A rope-base murphy-bed, 1740–90, United States. In use, the upper frame would suspend a canopy and curtains, which would hide the bed entirely when it was folded and make it a lit à demi-ciel when unfolded

Media related to Rope bedframes at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Karstensen, Rebecca (2018-01-18). Graves, Jean (ed.). "Sleep Tight, Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite – A Myth Debunked". libraries.indiana.edu.
  2. ^ "Canopy beds and rope beds". Greydragon Furniture collection. (includes links to plans and information on tightening and use)
  3. ^ a b c Devin, Harold. "Making a Rope Bed" (PDF).
  4. ^ a b c Vredeman de Vries, Hans (September 28, 1998). "Great Bed of Ware". Victoria and Albert Museum: Explore the Collections. V&A Explore The Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum.
  5. ^ Wright, Bryan. "Colonial Sense: How-To Guides: Interior: Bed Roping". Colonial Sense.
  6. ^ "The Stamford Historical Society, A virtual tour through the Hoyt-Barnum House". www.stamfordhistory.org.
  7. ^ "What Is The Origin Of The Phrase "Sle... | Lexico.com". Lexico Dictionaries. Archived from the original on April 10, 2017.
  8. ^ "East Anglian rush", probably actually Scirpus, a sedge[1]