Design of Fireplaces in the Period Home

Most rooms had a fireplace, though those in the bedrooms were rarely used.

The three parts of the fireplace are the grate, surround and hearth.

Fireplaces before 1800 were usually 'open', with either a firebasket or a hob grate of brick or iron. The 19th century saw the spread of the cast iron hob grate, and from 1850, the typical Victorian register grate appeared with a round and later straight top. The Edwardian register grate was similar but Art Nouveau designs were common.

The fireplace surround was brick or stone in the earlier period and in more modest houses, or else marble, slate or wood. The hearth was stone, marble, slate or tiled. In the early Victorian period, corbels were often used to support the mantel. The smoke hood began to be introduced from the 1880s. Another major evolution was the inglenook; this was revived late in the century by people such as Shaw and Nesfield.

  • 18th century brick hob grate
    18th century brick hob grate
  • cast iron hob grate
    cast iron hob grate
  • early register grate
    early register grate
  • register grate with tiled cheeks
    register grate with tiled cheeks

Gas heating made little impact until after the First World War.

Visit our advice on caring for fireplaces.