A feature of interior design in the United Kingdom and Australia, a ceiling rose has been a fixture of many rooms since the 19th century. Its past as a symbol extends much further into the past than that, however.
The Romans viewed the rose as a sign of secrecy, a belief which had its origins in a somewhat garbled appropriation of a symbol of the Egyptian god Horus. The roses we now see on many ornamental ceilings are often in government buildings, or other places where discussions take place. There is a reason for this.
In England, during the reign of Tudor monarchs such as Henry VIII, the rose came to be seen a symbol beneath which people could speak plainly, without fear of consequence or repercussion. Later in British history, during the reign of the Hanoverians, in the 18th and 19th century, the Georgian ceiling rose became a feature of many English ceilings. The Regency era, particularly, was a time when interior design took on a newly sophisticated aspect, at least for those people wealthy enough to be able afford it.
The design itself became more common in the 19th century, with the Victorian ceiling rose and the Edwardian ceiling rose becoming a fixture of many British homes at that time. These roses can still be seen on many ceilings on the UK.
The feature also began to take on a practical aspect, as electricity became more widespread in British homes. A chandelier or other electrical light fitting is now often affixed to a ceiling rose. In fact, so closely has the feature become identified with electrical fittings, that the term ceiling rose now often refers to a type of wiring set-up, which includes a junction box.
It seems such a mundane term, but the ceiling rose has a rich and mysterious history and still remains a fashionable addition in modern interiors.