The fireplaces we all know and love today are defined as architectural structures that contain fire for the purpose of heating, as well as for cooking. These features are also well known for the relaxing ambiance they create. In their basic structure they contain a firebox or firepit, and a chimney or some other flue that allows the exhaust to escape.
Through the history there were different designs of fireplaces. On all five world continents there are numerous evidences of prehistoric, man-made fires, built in the ground, within caves, or in the center of a hut or dwelling. These early models were more of fire pits, than fireplaces, and were usually placed in the center of the rooms, allowing space for the people to gather around them. The problem with venting the smoke outside was solved much later, when the chimneys were invented. The venting system and the airflow were significantly improved in 1678 by Prince Rupert, nephew of Charles I, who raised the grate of the fireplace.
Two important developments in the history of fireplaces happened in the 18th century. In the beginning of this century, Ben Franklin developed a convection chamber for the fireplace which greatly improved its efficiency. He also improved the airflow, by pulling the air and venting it out at the top. In the later years of this century, Count Rumford designed a fireplace that is considered as the foundation for today’s modern fireplaces. This feature had a tall and shallow firebox that was much better at drawing the smoke up and out of the building, and also, the model greatly improved the amount of radiant heat that was projected into the room.
In the times of the industrial revolution, the Adam Brothers perfected the style of the fireplace design, making it smaller and more brightly lit, and emphasizing the quality of the materials that were used in the construction, more than its size.
By the 1800’s most of the new fireplaces were made of two parts, the surround, consisted of a mantlepiece and sides supports, usually made of wood, marble or granite, and the insert, where the fire burned, made of cast iron, often accessorized with decorative tiles.
You must be logged in to post a comment.