|18th Century bed cupboard|
|21st century bed cupboard|
The Mail pretends indignation this morning at the advertising of a sleeping cubby-hole for rent in a London house, but such things have a long history - in historical terms it was only comparatively recently that we enjoyed the luxury of each person sleeping in their own room.
Servants, in particular, were stored for the night in some peculiar places. Privileged body servants sometimes slept on the 'truckle' - a wheeled board stored under the Master's bed; in one of the historic royal palaces, servants' bed-nests were hidden in a void between the ceiling and the floor above, and kitchens and parlours of the more humble sort were often provided with bed-cupboards. Sleeping in the kitchen after the family had retired for the night was common. In the eighteenth century not only were even normal sized rooms commonly partitioned with thin boarding into several sleeping-holes, but guests unknown to each-other would be expected to share beds.
One imagines a future Monty Python:- "You grew up in a shed in the garden? We would have killed for a shed. Four of us lived in the under-stairs cupboard ..."