IT HAS already been described as the most important piece of furniture in the realm and now a day-long symposium in London is being dedicated to its exquisitely carved frame.

Now the bed originally dismissed as mock-Tudor, dismantled and left for collection in a Chester car park, is about to have its day in the capital at the V&A museum.

On January 21, many of the professionals who have conducted research into the so-called Paradise Bed will present their findings during a day-long symposium at the museum.

Guest of honour will be the bed itself, which was rescued from obscurity by Humshaugh antique bed restorer Ian Coulson.

He paid £2,200 at auction for what is believed to be the conception point of the Tudor dynasty.

The marriage bed of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York – it is assumed that within its folds Henry VIII was conceived.

Dr Jonathan Foyle, Tudor historian and former curator of historic buildings at the Historic Royal Palaces, spent a year conducting his own research after Ian got in touch with him.

In 2013, the eminent historian made a BBC Four documentary, entitled Secret Knowledge: The King’s Lost Bed, and announced: ‘This bed belonged to Henry VII. It has to be the most important piece of furniture (in England) – and, arguably, royal artefact.

‘Even the Westminster Coronation Chair has less to say than this.’

In short, it was the most potent symbol possible of the union of the Houses of York and Lancaster coming, as it did, after the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses.

Ian, for one, needed no convincing. He spent three years tracing the provenance of the bed with the aim of proving this was no Victorian revivalist copy.

Although the bed’s origins do actually remain a matter of some academic debate, dendrochronology (the science of dating events from the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in tree trunks) has confirmed the wood was European oak cut from the same tree.

Following Henry’s defeat of Elizabeth’s uncle, Richard III, at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the pair were married in January 1486 in accordance with the pact made between their respective mothers to bring together the Houses of York and Lancaster.

The critical date in the history of the bed is April 1486, the month Henry and Elizabeth made their Royal progress to York.

Beds don’t have the same status now that they did in medieval times. Back then, they were integral to birth, death, marriage and meetings – they all took place in or around the bed. As such, beds travelled, and particularly this one.

Ian told me in 2013: “The script for its creation was written by Richard Foxe, the spinmeister – the Peter Mandelson – of his day and absolutely everything carved on it had a political meaning.

“In an era when the bed was the greatest barometer of social status, this bed was of paramount importance because of what it represented.”

Artist Bartholomew Bath designed what became the ubiquitous symbol of Henry and Elizabeth’s reign, the Tudor Rose, for that trip to York, a visit designed to secure Henry’s Northern stronghold.

Ian said: “Prior to April 1486, they still had the two single roses – white for the House of York and red for Lancaster – and they are the roses carved on the marriage bed, so we know it predates the union rose.

“As well as the political elements of the bed’s iconography, its other key purpose would have been a means of appeal to Christ for childbirth, for issue.

“Henry won the crown of England on the battlefield, but he needed a son and heir to cement his reign and for the dynasty to survive, so there is a lot of fertility symbolism on the bed, such as acorns and grapes.

“The whole bed is about unity and fertility.”

It certainly looks like Arthur, Henry VIII’s older brother, was conceived in the bed for he was born exactly nine months after the marriage.

Arthur, Prince of Wales, died aged 15 – of ‘sweating disease’ in Ludlow Castle – just five months after being married to Catherine of Aragon.

His younger brother subsequently married her to maintain England’s alliance with Spain, but later divorced her, of course, in order to marry Anne Boleyn.

“It was the whole thing of whether Arthur and Catherine, who were both 15 at the time, had consummated their marriage that became central to Henry VIII’s appeal to the Pope for the right to annul his own marriage to her,” said Ian.

The Pope’s refusal triggered the chain of events in which Henry broke with Rome and established himself as head of the Church of England and then finally got his way with Anne Boleyn.

It is those resonances, centred on the bed that Arthur was conceived in and probably born in, that make it all the more precious – and all the more surprising that it has survived to tell the tale.

For it was thought no royal furniture had survived the bonfire of Tudor chattels lit by Cromwell and his Council of State, bar the fragment of a headboard belonging to Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves that is now in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

Ian said: “There were still royal beds in collections according to inventories before Cromwell’s time, including several pieces from the Tudor and Elizabethan periods on display at Windsor Castle.

“Visitors could go and see them and people did, because they were very grand affairs. Some of the beds had grown to enormous sizes, 9ft and 11ft square in some cases.”

Cromwell had those beds destroyed, but the Paradise Bed survived because it had left Westminster long beforehand.

Henry and Elizabeth took it with them when they visited his mother, Margaret Beaufort, and stepfather, Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby.

Ian said: “It was Thomas Stanley and his brother, William, who were instrumental in helping Henry VII win the crown.

“They turned the tide in the Battle of Bosworth and one of them picked the crown out of a bush that Richard had been wearing and actually crowned Henry on the battlefield.”

However, William Stanley, who became Henry’s Lord Chamberlain, had just been beheaded for treason, leaving Thomas Stanley in a very precarious position.

In a move designed to reaffirm both Stanley’s status and Henry’s own stronghold in the North, when the royal couple returned to London, they left the Paradise Bed behind.