Month: October 2019

All About Castle Fireplaces

The History of fireplaces in castles

The Romans Using tubes inside the wall to draw out smoke from bakeries, but real chimneys did not appear in northern Europe until the 12th century. The earliest example dates back to 1185AD in a Yorkshire castle.

wood ashFireplaces evolved very slowly. Chimneys were a later addition to castle walls. The chimneys are on the outside walls as they stick out. 

Domestic fires were located in the middle of the main room or hall. Halls would often have lanterns built into the roof which would let out smoke and sometimes the heat. Over time the purpose of fireplaces changed from necessity to a visual purpose.

In the 1800s new fireplaces consisted of two parts, the surround and the insert.  The surround consisted of the mantelpiece and sides, usually made from wood or marble or granite. Where the fire burns uses a cast iron insert and decorative tiles. Victorian era fireplaces added heat and a cosy ambience.

Rochester Castle in Kent

A medieval castle with thick stone and tiny windows had inefficient fires that made the castle difficult to keep warm. The tapestries weren’t only there for decoration but to help insulate the castle walls. Heating the stones as well as the chamber and directing the smoke from the room allowed for a much more warmer castle.

Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire

In the 16th century heating, the home wasn’t just a necessity but it was about fashion. As the most up to date fireplaces and chimney stacks were a status symbol in Tudor England.  Several large fireplaces were installed when Robert Dudley wanted to impress Queen Elizabeth I.

Framlingham Castle in Suffolk

In the 16th century, intricately carved chimneys were added to the castle which replicated the fashionable royal palaces of the period, but only two of these connect to fireplaces. This was due to the appearance of warmth was even more important than the real thing.

coalWitley Court in Worcestershire

The large heating system took around 30 tonnes of coal a day. The coal came from the family that lived there as they have their fortune in the production of coal. The house used a hot air heating system. They transported all the coal that was bought through on barges from the black country and loaded onto their underground trolley system. Using tracks through the tunnels beneath the court the coal was delivered to the builder room. This powered five hot water boilers and dozens of fireplaces in the court. 

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Fireplace Glossary

Fireplace glossary

Here is the complete Fireplace glossary for all the terms and definitions that you may hear when dealing with your fireplace.

  • Andiron – Either one of two horizontal metal bars resting on short legs intended to support firewood in a hearth
  • Arch – An arched top of the fireplace opening.
  • Ash dump – An opening in a hearth to sweep ashes for later removal from the ash pit.
  • Back (fireback) – The inside, rear wall of the fireplace of masonry or metal that reflects heat into the room.
  • Brick trimmer – A brick arch supporting a hearth or shielding a joist in front of a fireplace.
  • Chimney breast – The part of the chimney which projects into a room to accommodate a fireplace.
  • Crane – Metal arms mounted on pintles which swing and hold pots above a fire.
  • Damper – A metal door to close a flue when a fireplace is not in use.
  • Flue – The passageway in the chimney.
  • Hearth – The floor of a fireplace. The part of a hearth which projects into a room may be called the front or outer hearth.
  • Hearthstone – A large stone or other materials used as the hearth material.
  • Insert – The fireplace insert is a device inserted into existing masonry or prefabricated wood fireplace.
  • Jamb – The side of a fireplace opening.
  • Mantel – Either the shelf above a fireplace or the structure to support the masonry above a fireplace
  • Smoke shelf – A shelf below the smoke chamber and behind the damper. It collects debris and water falling down the flue.
  • Throat (waist) – The narrow area above a fireplace usually where the damper is located.
  • Wing – The sides of a fireplace above the opening near the throat.
  • Firemzer – a metal mat that sits on your grate. You’ll save 38% of your fuel and reduce harmful particulates.

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