Our opening times are Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm and weekends by appointmentPlease choose a sub section. Please be aware of the 'next page' button at the bottom.
Robert Mills Architectural and Decorative Antiques (Reclamation and Salvage) always has a range of antique, salvaged and reclaimed fire surrounds (chimneypieces or fireplaces), fire inserts and overmantles. Our fire surrounds are sourced from across the UK from small Victorian terraces to large public buildings and grand houses facing delmolition. Fire places of oak, mahogany, pine and other woods, of stone, slate and marble are often available. As well as antique and reclaimed fire surrounds, owing to popular demand, we have recently been stocking a range of good quality copies of originals. If you cannot find what you're looking for please let us know as we may be able to source for you the perfect fireplace for your house or commercial project.
A mantelpiece or chimneypiece is the projecting hood which in medieval times was built over a fireplace to catch the smoke, and at a later date to the decorative framework, often carried up to the ceiling. Mantelpiece is now the general term for the jambs, mantel shelf, and external accessories of a fireplace. For many centuries, the chimneypiece was the most ornamental and most artistic feature of a room, but as fireplaces have become smaller, and modern methods of heating have been introduced, its artistic as well as its practical significance has grown less.
Up to the twelfth century, rooms were warmed entirely by a hypocaust, or with braziers, or by fires on the hearth, the smoke finding its way up to a lantern in the roof. The earliest chimneypiece or fideplace known is that in the Kings House at Southampton, with Norman shafts in the joints carrying a segmental arch, which is attributed to the first half of the twelfth century. At a later date, in consequence of the greater width of the fireplace or fire surround, flat or segmental arches were thrown across and constructed with archivolt, sometimes joggled, the thrust of the arch being resisted by bars of iron at the back.
In domestic work of the fourteenth century, the chimneypiece was greatly increased in order to allow of the members of the family sitting on either side of the fire on the hearth, and in these cases great beams of timber were employed to carry the hood; in such cases the fireplace was so deeply recessed as to become externally an important architectural feature, as at Haddon Hall. The largest chimneypiece existing is in the great hall of the Palais des Comtes at Poitiers, which is nearly 30 feet wide, having two intermediate supports to carry the hood; the stone flues are carried up between the tracery of an immense window above.
In the early Renaissance style, the chimneypiece of the Palais de Justice at Bruges is a magnificent example; the upper portion, carved in oak, extends the whole width of the room, with statues of nearly life size of Charles V. and others of the royal family of Spain. The most prolific modern designer of chimneypieces was J. B. Piranesi, who in 1765 published a large series, on which at a later date the Empire style in France was based. In France, the finest work of the early Renaissance period is to be found in the chimneypieces, which are of infinite variety of design.
The English chimneypieces of the early seventeenth century, when the purer Italian style was introduced by Inigo Jones, were extremely simple in design, sometimes consisting only of the ordinary mantel piece, with classic architraves and shelf, the upper part of the chimney breast being paneled like the rest of the room. In the latter part of the century the classic architrave was abandoned in favor of a much bolder and more effective molding, as in the chimneypieces at Hampton Court, and the shelf was omitted.
In the eighteenth century, the architects returned to the Inigo Jones classic type, but influenced by the French work of Louis XIV. and XV. Figure sculpture, generally represented by graceful figures on each side, which assisted to carry the shelf, was introduced, and the over-mantel developed into an elaborate frame for the family portrait over the chimneypiece. Towards the close of the eighteenth century the designs of the Adam Brothers superseded all others, and a century later they came again into fashion. The Adam mantels are in wood enriched with ornament, cast in molds, sometimes copied from the carved wood decoration of old times.
References & Links