17th century fireplaces

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Eddie Wainwright

17th century fireplaces

Post by Eddie Wainwright » Sun 17th Apr, 2005 12:05 pm

I'm in the process of renovating a 17th century farmhouse in S' Wales. I need to put back a few fireplaces that would be suitable for that particular period, also taking into consideration the type of building it is. Can anyone give me some ideas of the style of fireplace I need to install and also where it may be possible to obtain them.


Re: 17th century fireplaces *LINK*

Post by Evelyn » Sun 17th Apr, 2005 12:25 pm

I think you'll find that 'fireplaces' as such are probably still in place - large openings for a fire and cooking hearths. They may be hidden behind later work - which may in itself have historic merit and shouldn't be removed without a great deal of thought. Houses evolve over time, and attempting to remove all later additions and put back to a date of building isn't always a good idea.

It's dreadfully bad conservation work to speculate what may have been there and try to put a pastiche back. If the house is listed then you will need to discuss any work with your local authority before you begin, and receive consent. You may find CADW will be able to help too with some advice.

Before you do anything else, I suggest you buy a few books on period property and how to approach its repair - plenty on this website in the books section (click on logo on left of forum main page).

A good starter is Janet Collinge's book on old house care and repair. Alos anything on vernacular buildings by Prof Ron Brunskill, Hugh Lander .. plenty to choose from.

Have a look too at the Vernacular Architecture Group website. Try the Ancient Monuments Society too, see if there are articles in past editions of 'Transactions' which could be informative. There is a museum of Welsh Life it may be worth visiting. have a look at the 'Diary' of repairing a Welsh Cottage and past Period Properties of the Month - via the PPUK Homepage.

A SPAB homeowner's weekend is highly recommended, too.


paul nelson

Re: 17th century fireplaces

Post by paul nelson » Sun 2nd Apr, 2006 9:41 am

Just spotted your request for information on 17 C fireplaces. I see that you posted it in 2005 so presumably you have finished the project now.I would be grateful if you could offer any advice. I'm undertaking a similar job though in a somewhat modest cottage in Hampshire. Built in 1640 it has a substantial chimney breast and having exposed a cavity of around 56 x 80 cm (in a chimney breast 163cm wide).I'm beginning to wonder whether there should be larger opening and what I have revealed is Victorian re-modelling. I would be really grateful if you could share your experiences. Paul.

David Penrose

Re: 17th century fireplaces

Post by David Penrose » Sun 2nd Apr, 2006 12:16 pm

That substantial discrepancy in size between the stack and the fire hole would suggest that - as you suspect - the fire hole has been bricked in to reduce its size. Is the outside of the chimney breast plastered? If not, you should not have difficulty seeing where this has been done.
However, if it is plastered, grab yourself a torch and an old hat! Shove your head up the chimney as far as you can and have a careful look at the brickwork. With luck, you should be able to see some sign of the original lintel or brick arch above the level of the existing one, plus possible other signs of non-matching brickwork on the sides or back.
If you are really keen to do the detective work thoroughly, you can also hack the plaster off the front of the chimney breast. This should clearly expose the size and construction of the original structure.
If your house is listed, don't forget to talk to your CO first.


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