Author: Jess Hill

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. 

To find out more click here

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.

Everything You Need To Know bout S’mores

S’mores first originated as a girl scout snack in the 1920s and since has been a popular American campfire tradition. It has even made its way across the pond. Perfect to have when using the Firemizer Winter Pack Bundle! 

Whether you bake your s’more or cook it over a fire this homemade treat is perfect for this time of year. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in what better way to spend an evening eating an indulgent treat.

If you are a s’more connoisseur or a beginner here are some ideas for the perfect s’more. 

smoreThe classic S’more

Everyone knows the classic s’more, Crackers, marshmallow and chocolate. However, they can be subsisted to create your very own unique s’more.

Base
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Oreo
  • Shortbread
  • Chocolate biscuit
  • Pretzel biscuits
  • Doughnut
  • Waffles
Filling
  • Marshmallow
  • Ice cream
  • Lemon curd
  • Jam
  • Chocolate bar melted
  • Chocolate spread
  • Peanut butter
Extras
  • Raisins
  • Banana
  • Strawberry
  • Pineapple

Vegan s’more

In this day and age, it is getting easier to find vegan alternatives and that means you can create your very own vegan s’more. Perfect for the colder weather to cook over the campfire. Checkout veg news as they have more vegan s’more alternatives.

Indoor S’more

Using a cast iron skillet you can create a s’more dip.

Start by putting chocolate chips in the pan, top with marshmallow and then bake in the oven until it is nice a and toasty.

Then use your crackers/ biscuits of choice to scoop with and there you have your s’more dip.

Breaking all the rules

There’s a lot of variations of the s’more using the main building blocks and messing with them to create delicious treats.

The bacon s’more

  • The key ingredient to this is chocolate-covered bacon giving the s’more salt and sweet flavour

Frozen s’more

  • There are a few versions of this frozen creation one being a s’more bar filled with ice cream, another is a marshmallow filled with chocolate, ice cream and bits of biscuit.

How To Look After A Hedgehog This Winter

Autumn not only brings cosy jumpers and the promise of a pumpkin spice latte but hedgehog activity spikes.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals so there is a chance you’ll see more in the autumn months.

Hedgehogs have been at serious decline in England over the past few years. They are a protected species and to find out how to help you can go to the British hedgehog preservation society.

Bonfires

Hedgehogs love nesting in log piles. So If you do plan on having a bonfire then make sure you check for any nesting within the wood on the day of lighting the bonfire. You can check when placing Firemizer or using Firebuilder!

Food and Drink

Did you know cat or dog food is a great supplementary food for hedgehogs? The only liquid given to hedgehogs should be water.

Hibernation

They usually hibernate in November to easter but it is dependent on weather. They usually wake up a few times throughout winter and build a new nest.

hedgehogs

Strimming

Always check the area before streaming for hedgehogs and accidents from this are mostly fatal. As well do check for hoglets as there could be a nest nearby.

Woodpile

Using old and decaying wood to create a pile will bring about insects but all a safe place for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate.

Ponds

Hedgehogs love water if you have a pond allow an easy exit route such as a ramp to climb out or make sure the pond has a gentle slope.

Pesticides

Try not to use toxic chemicals or slug pellets in your garden as this will not only reduce the number of insects available to hedgehogs it might make them ill or kill them.

Sleeping

Hedgehogs that are warm t touch will be sleeping whilst hibernating they will be colder. As in hibernation, they reduce their body temperature to conserve energy.

Threats

The biggest threat to these creatures is habitat loss. Land that’s being used for construction and roads once would have been a perfect place for hedgehogs. It is important to make our gardens safe places for these creatures.

Things You Didn’t Know About Autumn

As Starbucks has announced the pumpkin spice latte is back it is the start of autumn! Actually there are two different dates for when it is supposed to begin. Autumn defined by the earth orbit around the sun begins on the equinox which falls on 22nd or 23rd of September. However, the meteorological Autumn always begins on the 1st of September.

  • The harvest moon appears in autumn, it is the full moon that appears closest to the equinox. The light from the moon was essential for farmers to have a good harvest as there wasn’t any electricity.
  • Pumpkin is the most craved flavour during this season
  • Oktoberfest is a beer festival that is held during autumn which originated in Munich, Germany in the early 1800s. This is 14 days long and over 1.3 million gallons of beer are poured for this event.
  • Autumn wasn’t introduced into the English vocabulary until the 18th century. Previously we would use the word fall. Autumn came from the French Automne.

autumn

Trees prepare for winter

The shorter days are a sign for the trees to prepare for winter. There isn’t enough light during winter for photosynthesis to occur so as the days shorten through autumn the trees begin to shut down their food production and reduce the amount of chlorophyll in their leaves. Catching leaves during autumn is supposed to bring good luck

The chemical called chlorophyll gives leaves the green pigment. This stops being produced during colder seasons allowing other colours to show through like the red, orange and yellow.some of the chemicals that create the yellows, reds and oranges are found in some foods like carrots and egg yolks.

Pumpkins

Carving vegetables and placing candles inside them originated in Ireland but they would use turnips or potatoes. When the Irish arrived in American they discovered pumpkins and a new Halloween ritual was born.

The winter pack is now available for you to buy!

How to prepare for winter

It’s only 4 weeks till autumn and 8 weeks till winter and 117 days till Christmas. The cold weather will be on its way and it’s time to prepare your stove for winter.

chimineaThe chimney

Your chimney needs sweeping once a year to ensure it does not build up tar and creosote. Using Firemizer in your stove reduces the creosote in your chimney. The build-up of creosote will affect the efficiency of your stove and increases the risk of carbon monoxide going back into the room, especially with a blocked or a partially blocked flue.

Cleaning and maintenance

Check the glass of the stove door for any issues and now is a good time to clean it. You can clean the glass with wood ash and newspaper. Alternatively, there are stove glass cleaners available. Check out our blog on cleaning your fire!

Stove exterior

While the stove is cold you can touch up any paint and check if there is any rust. Rust can cause problems on cast iron stoves. Rub away the rust with a wire brush or steel wool.

Check rope seal

A tight fit and solid seal are beneficial for the efficiency and safety of your stove. This will create a smoke seal and stop harmful carbon monoxide from entering your home.

coalFire grates

The grates can get warn out by the high temperatures. A distorted or bad fitting grate can jam the stove.

Stock up on wood

Don’t be left out in the cold, stock up early on your fuel supply and make sure your wood is thoroughly dried and only contains 20% moisture as this could affect your stove efficiency.

Keep your eyes peeled for our Winter Pack, one Firemizer and 6 Firebuilders.

Three Historic Fires In London

Fires have happened throughout history, some you may know, some you may not. Here are Three Historic Fires In London! 

fire hydrant The frozen fire at butler’s wharf

In 1931 firefighters battled with flames and frozen temperatures. To tackle the fire roughly 1,100 firefighters arrived. The warehouse on fire had large stocks of tea and rubber, the fire burnt throughout the day and night leaving a smell of burnt rubber.

The fire wasn’t extinguished for several days.

The unbearably cold conditions made the blaze difficult to tackle. The water froze as it ran down the wall and sheets of ice spread across the roads. The cold temperature meant they had to wrap hoses in blankets to hold them.

The king’s crossfire

On November 18th 1987 the London Underground experienced the worst fire to date. A lit match was dropped on the wooden escalators at Kings Cross underground that caused the fire. 150 firefighters and 30 fire engines attended the scene. The changes made after this fire were; 

  • replacing the wooden escalators,
  • the smoking ban extends to all station areas 
  • improved radio communications between firefighters.
fireGreat Fire of London

This historic fire, the majority of you will know. In 1666 the fire destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, the royal exchange and st Pauls cathedral. Many of the buildings were made from timber and covered in a flammable substance called pitch. Houses were packed closely together, many with sheds and yards containing hay and straw. The previous summer had caused a drought and had dried out the wooden houses.

The fire began in a bakers shop on Pudding Lane. A fire was left and at 1 am that house was an inferno. A previous fire had destroyed a section of the London Bridge, therefore, the fire couldn’t reach the south of the river. 

There was no organised fire brigade and firefighting was very basic with little skill or knowledge. Using leather buckets, axes and water to fight the fire which had little effect. To stop the fire they pulled down and blew up houses in the path of the fire to stop it spreading.

Ultimately this began the of assembling the first fire brigades. 

Want more information on historic fires click here

Fireplace Transport In Harry Potter: The Floo Network

The fireplace has always been a focal point of the room, providing warmth and aesthetic value. But what if your fireplace could be used for travel!

In Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, we are introduced to the Floo Network system which relies on fireplaces for quick transport. This mode of transport is similar to Network Rail but much better. Even if this is imaginary it still makes for an interesting read!

The Floo Network is a safer mode of transport and it can easily transport children, the elderly and sick.

harry potter Floo Powder

This substance is a silver powder invented in the 13th century, which you can buy in Diagon Alley, however, the owners are renowned for never answering the door.

The price has remained the same, two sickles a scoop which is 58p. The exact ingredients are a closely guarded secret.

How it works

To use the Floo Network, chose your destination, grab some Floo powder and throw into the fireplace and green flames should appear. Upon entering, state your destination. You’ll be there in no time!

The Floo Network is generally reliable. However, speaking the name of the destination loudly and clearly upon entering the fireplace is difficult, due to ash, heat and panic.

Nearly every witch or wizard home is connected to the Floo Network. The fireplace can be disconnected with a simple spell but connection requires you to register with the ministry of magic. Once connected you can travel to any fireplace in the world as long as it is registered.

Not to worry as non-magic folk fireplaces can’t be connected unless in an emergency so you can still use Firemizer in your fireplace!

BBQ With Firemizer!

As the weather is forecast for a wet weekend it’s perfect English barbeque weather after all! Why not BBQ with Firemizer!

bbqEveryone loves a BBQ, the smell of the food cooking and enjoying a nice evening in the garden. If you want some BBQ inspiration check out our blog on BBQs around the world! 

To get your BBQ to cooking temperature 20% faster here are some of our top tips!

BBQ With Firemizer

Simply place it on the base of your BBQ, place the coals on top, and start it like normal and see the difference. It’ll get your coals hotter much faster, help them to burn more efficiently and last up to a third longer, and reduce any harmful pollutants emitted by 72%. The only way to BBQ is a BBQ with firemizer!

Using Firebuilder

why not try using Firebuilder to start your fire? With no kerosene, the food will be free from any harmful chemicals to keep your food tasting great. Just break the cardboard brick, light the edges, place it on top of your solid fuel and let the fire burn downwards.

Grilling Meats

  1. Beef = ground beef cook at 71°C Fahrenheit, steaks cook at 62°C. Use direct heat for chops and steaks. Use indirect heat for roasts and larger cuts of beef.
  2. Chicken = chicken breast and legs cook at 73°C. For thick pieces of meat cook over direct heat, larger pieces over indirect heat.
  3. Pork = sausages cooked at 73°C while pork chops cook at 62°C. Start cooking sausages on high heat so the outside is nice and charred then move to a cover part of the grill to finish off.
  4. Seafood = salmon or shrimp cook at 62°C. Oil the grill well to reduce sticking. 

For more tips and great advice check out this article

What To Do With Bugs In Your Firewood

However, you get your firewood there is a chance some small critters hitchhike their way into your home. These insects living in the firewood pose no threat to you or your home. They are either feeding on the wood, nesting or are overwintering under the bark.

bugsInsect Prevention

The best way to stop insects from getting into your home is to store your wood outside until it is ready to be burnt. spraying the wood with insecticides will not have much benefit and is potentially dangerous. This would not go deep enough into the wood to reach the insects.

Two insects that may cause problems are carpenter ants and termites. These can affect the house if stacked against the outside walls.

Carpenter Ants

wood that remains moist for a long period of time is a good place for carpenter ants to live. They do not feed on the wood but they hollow out pieces inside the wood for nesting. If the wood is bought inside the ants may warm-up and move from the wood however the likely hood of the ants nesting inside the house is slim. but stacking wood against your home may provide a route for the ants to enter your home.

Termites

wood that is stacked on the ground may be eaten by termites. There might be mud tunnels visible on the outside of the wood. Termites bought into the home in firewood can’t establish a new nest or damage your furniture. however, if the wood is stacked against the house this ould provide a way for termites to extend their feeding into your home.

If you find a termite infestation in stacked wood near your home then consult a pest management professional and have your home treated.

Bark Beetles

These beetles like dead or dying wood, this makes them quite commonly found in firewood. They tend to feed on wood in large groups so a log cut could contain hundreds of these beetles.

a lot of insects spend their winters under the bark of trees or in your woodpile. When bringing firewood into your home it warms the wood and these insects crawl out of the wood. Pillbugs, centipedes, millipedes, ground beetles are commonly found in firewood. They will not harm you or your house and need only be picked up and removed.

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