THE Great Bed of Ware is to be loaned by the V&A, for the first time since its acquisition in 1931, to the Ware Museum.

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The Great Bed of Ware which is being loaned to the V&A.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £229,200 to the Ware Museum Trust to allow the bed to be displayed in the town where it was made from April 6 for a year.

Dating to c.1590, the bed is thought to have been created as a tourist attraction for travellers on the pilgrim route from London to Walsingham. Over 3m wide and publicised as being able to sleep 12, travellers were reputed to choose the town of Ware to break their journey just to spend a night in the bed. Many carved into it with dates, initials and wax seals.

It became so well known that William Shakespeare has Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night describe a sheet of paper as "big enough for the Bed of Ware".