Fireplaces have their origins in simple wrought firedogs set on open earth in Medieval times. The next innovation was the fireback which served to protect the brick wall behind the fire and also to reflect and radiate heat into the room. In the 18th Century more elaborate fire baskets and dog grates were developed, and the discovery of cast iron revolutionised fireplaces. Starting with Georgian hob grates, which developed into the ubiquitous cast iron insert of the Victorian period, and then the full combination fireplaces of the late 19th Century, where the fire grate and the fire surround were combined, this is especially epitomised with the sinuous decoration of Art Nouveau examples, which typically also combined tiles for extra decorative impact. Fire surrounds in the meantime had developed from massive Tudor stone surrounds, to finely decorated statuary marble chimneypieces of the 18th Century.
Slate surrounds were also very popular in country properties and these were often painted to resemble marble. Georgian surrounds often incorporated gesso (a type of plaster) to add to the intricacy of the carving. Mahogany and darker woods also became popular in the Victorian era, and 19th Century manufacturers like Falkirk and Coalbrookdale produced decorative cast iron surrounds. Stoves also started to make an appearance in the 19th Century, typically designed to burn coal, they were especially popular on the continent and these stoves are usually highly decorative and often enamelled. We maintain a substantial stock of all types of antique fireplace.
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