The Melville State Bed

Sunday 20 May 2001

The School of Art History at the University of St Andrews is to present a landmark lecture on the Melville State Bed next week (Thursday 31 May 2001), one of the most significant pieces of 17th Century furniture in the UK.

The bed occupied the State bedroom in Melville House, by Cupar from 1700 until 1949 when it was dismantled and taken to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Now, the V&A have built a special room for the bed and it will become one of the star exhibits of their new galleries to be opened in November 2001.

The University’s School of Art History specialises in teaching Furniture History and is the only UK University where the subject can be studied by both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Dr David Jones, an authority on 17th Century Scottish furniture, has arranged for the public lecture (featuring slides) to be held at the University at the invitation of the V&A and the BBC who are collaborating on the venture because the bed is to feature in Simon Schama’s current television series The History of Britain. The lecture will be given by Dr Tessa Murdoch and Lynda Hillyer of the V&A.

The bed was made for George Melville (born 1636, died 1707 and an alumnus of the University) who was created 1st Earl of Melville in 1690. He was William III’s Secretary of State for Scotland from 1689 to 1691 and Keeper of the Privy Seal from 1691. The Melville bed was an important political symbol because it indicated the Earl’s status as representative of William III in Scotland. The impetus for commissioning such an extraordinarily lavish bed probably came from an expectation that William III would visit Scotland but never did.

The Melville family descendants will be present at the lecture which will be held in School I, St Mary’s College, South Street, St Andrews on Thursday 31 May at 7pm.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Should you wish to contact Dr Jones, Mrs Janet Inglis Sykes or any of the descendants of the Melville family, please contact Claire Grainger in the first instance – contact details below. You are also invited to send a reporter/photographer to the event.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected] Ref: melvillestatebed/standrews/chg/21ma y2001

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