Bed Pockets

I’ve been reading Judith Flanders’s The Victorian House and discovered something really cool: in the Victorian era, nightstands weren’t a ‘thing’. Considering how ubiquitous as they are today (and how useful), it seems weird to think that people didn’t really have them.

In fact, it was a bit of a novelty to have a table near one’s bed, and generally only happened if someone was sick: “In sickroom literature, nurses were always being advised to bring a table to the bedside to hold the medicines. Mrs Panton [a nineteenth-century home decorating author], with her love of soft furnishings, suggested for the healthy ‘a bed pocket made out of a Japanese fan, covered with soft silk, and the pocket itself made out of plush, and nailed within easy reach‘, to hold a watch, a handkerchief, etc., and then, as an innovation which required explanation, ‘furthermore . . . great comfort is to be had from a table at one’s bedside, on which one can stand one’s book or anything one may be likely to want in the night'” (6-7).

Bed pockets sound terrible. Do you have any idea how many crumbs would get in mine? It seems like a long winded solution for a very simple problem. But at least now you can watch movies set in the Victorian era and impress all of your friends by screeching about the inaccuracies of all the nightstands you see.

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