As aesthetic and practical focal features of our homes, fireplaces are stunning additions to every living space and there is a myriad of different styles you can get on the market. From ornate Victorian pieces to contemporary industrial styles, there is something for every home. However, what is the history of this iconic piece of the home? Read on the find out more.
Fireplaces originated from the ancient world of cavemen, nomadic tribes and the neolithic period – though there wasn’t a fireplace structure per se, the symbolism of the fireplace being the place to surround, share food, stories and music has lasted for years.
The transition between the Neolithic period and the medieval period didn’t lead to many developments in fireplaces, and they remained to be an open hearth in the centre of a room. However, during the medieval period, fireplaces were moved to the wall in order to stop the amount of smoke filling a room. In medieval kitchens, these fireplaces still had a utilitarian aspect being incredibly large and were used to accommodate large cooking pots and pans.
During the 16th century, fireplaces started being constructed from stone and were influenced by classical architecture and so fireplace mantlepieces were invented thereafter. Fireplaces were used to generate warmth into a room, where people would gather around. In important houses, they were highly decorative and often were symbols of a person’s wealth.
The Jacobean period saw fireplaces becoming more and more ornamented – especially with the myriad of art movements like Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical. Fireplaces were being constructed from stone, marble, wood or painted plaster. Due to the production of coal burning overtaking wood burning, coal baskets were added to the fireplaces to avoid the black dust from tarnishing homes.
It is no secret that the industrial revolution of the Victorian period dramatically shaped life as we know it today. With the development of new resources, mass-production and consumer culture, starting to be made from cast iron. The Victorian period itself had many different artistic movements including Gothic revival and the aesthetic movement – which changed the intricacies of the fireplace’s ornate design.
The 20th century saw the rise of modernist architecture and art streamlined fireplace design. What’s more, the introduction of central heating into homes meant that fireplaces were reduced more to an aesthetic function rather than practical. Yet, the ornate styles have still remained as it is accessible to purchase a variety of mass-produced designs.
As we crowd around our phones and televisions now to share stories and comment on current events, rather than the fireplaces – you may think that the original symbolism is no longer relevant. However, as popularised through the famous reality television show like Love Island – the fireplace and hearths original allure as a site of the congregation still remains.
Here at Wrights of Campden, we have a range of magnificent stone fireplaces for you to choose from. We pride ourselves on supplying the highest quality regional stone to decorate your fireplace, like Cotswold stone, Bath stone, and Great Tew Ironstone. To find out more, and to see our range of beautiful handcrafted designs,simply contact us today.