>I had truly believed that Americans invented ridiculous roadside attractions, but I was proven wrong during my trip to London. The V&A Museum proudly displays the Great Bed of Ware. From the V&A website:
"The Great Bed of Ware is one of the most extravagant pieces in the British Galleries at the V&A. At over three metres wide it is twice the size of a normal bed of that period and was probably made for an inn at Ware in Hertfordshire. However it only took six years for it have tourism status, when it was mentioned by a German visitor to Ware and a few years later it was referred to in Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night'. There were also strange stories about the bed such as on the night of William and Mary's coronation in 1689 it was said to have slept '26 butchers and their wives'! It was made by a German craftsman out of oak wood and inspired by design prints from Flanders (a place in Belgium). The decoration is similar to beds of the time including the drapes which were more expensive than the actual bed."
Of course, now that I reflect upon its size and semi-erotic carvings, I wonder if it was not also built for the Sybaris (Headed on Down to the Love Shack) of the 17th Century. It would probably support quite an orgy (imagine 26 bakers and their wives!), and people were certainly quite randy back then. At any rate, it is certainly good evidence that people were lured in by roadside attractions before there were even quality roads, and that the desire to see the "World's Largest Whatever" began long before America was colonized. Totally fascinating.