Curtain Lecture
Serving Austin & the Dallas Metroplex
Doris Younger, ASID, RID | TX Certified Interior Designer #2977

The Curtain Lecture

In early colonial America, one of the founding colonies was populated by a group of Puritans. Their society was a theocracy which meant that their religious leaders were their political leaders as well. And in their way of thinking women were, like children, to be seen and not heard. The men would go off to their “Town Hall” meeting at the church to discuss the issues affecting their colony -----women not invited! Men debated and eventually made all the decisions affecting their lives.

When the men left such a meeting, they had two farewell greetings. Today we might say, “Goodbye. Have a nice day or good evening.” But, in that day the men also might say the full version of Good-bye ---a shortening of “God be with you”, and/or they might well say “Beware the curtain lecture” as they departed. So ringing out among the New England township’s square you would hear, “God be with you? Beware the curtain lecture!” over and over. So what were they talking about?

Well, when the men got home at night, it was cold. New England was so cold! There was no central heat in their homes, they were not insulated as our home are today and they were miserably cold at night much of the year. But in these Puritan homes were bedrooms with poster beds. Except for the summers, when they removed them, the poster bed had a wooden framed canopy top that supported heavy draw draperies and a fabric canopy top that kept the warmth inside the bed area. The man of the house would join his wife in the bed where she had already pulled closed the heavy curtains. In no time, their body heat would warm the bed and for nothing on earth did he want to step out of bed onto that cold, bare floor. That is when the wife would grill him on the events of the meeting and give her opinion…..women then weren’t much different from those of today and this was their only chance to express an opinion on what should be done. This was the dreaded “curtain lecture” given to the men who were a captive audience. Today the practical reasons for the canopy bed no longer exist but we still retain the poster bed in traditional settings for its elegant lines and beautiful style.

Just for Fun with Doris Younger Designs

The evolution of furniture from utilitarian to artful is often a key to the manners, mores and means of other times and places.  In that spirit and just for fun, here are “romance” stories about some of those pieces picked up over thirty five years of studying and practicing interior design.  Are they true? I don’t know for sure but if not, I’m sure at the very least they contain seeds of truth in the development of traditional furniture styles and, as I said, just for fun……. Read More fun stories here.