Bulletin - September 2008

10 September 2008

Terms of reference for antique fireplaces include mantelpiece, or chimneypiece... kamine, cheminee or chiminea …to mention just some of the European titles alone.

In the layout of principal interior living spaces the antique chimneypiece is an important prominent architectural as well as decorative feature in not just the traditional home. Essentially it either sets the style or complements the existing setting of the room, entrance hall or of the building itself…. providing focus, gravitas, charm and delight , even benign presence.

Why Antique?

For many people there is a simple but deep seated satisfaction…even Mystique...felt in the presence of an antique mantelpiece that is in many configurations in fact an Edifice in miniature itself. ….A structure that has endured the years ...or centuries...silent witness to bygone events and routines, dramatic and prosaic... of personages both notable and ordinary, poignant and joyful.

Importantly, the presence of an antique Fireplace in an environment... grand or modest, formal or understated affirms the unconscious human need for connection with the positive, distant past. Visible evidence is presented of the validity and quality of age old crafts and skills, concepts of eternal design and beautifully worked natural materials ...all combining in silent testament to the continuity and harmony of the ascent of Man's Civilisation.


For the owner of a period home or a property of a particular period and style the preference would normally be to choose antique fireplace that matches or complements the period features. Alternatively you may wish to create an antique or period environmental style in a modern or neutral interior...either completely with furniture and fittings and chimneypiece blending to that effect...or in a completely plain or hi tech décor positioning the one major traditional antique element, the chimneypiece in its inevitably prominent location.

Over the centuries building styles and decoration fashions evolved and changed. There were transition periods long and short when one style evolved into the next and then there were less gradual changes where the next style bore little or no relation to any previous…This was the case when the exotic Rococo style arrived all over Europe. It was considered a most radical, even risqué movement...In London the avant garde exponents were based around St Martins Lane. Then again many styles were revived in later centuries and referred to as Revival or Neo, mostly in the 18th and the 19th centuries...These included Neo Gothic, Gothic Revival . The same prefixes applied to... Jacobean, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Palladian, Georgian fireplaces, Regency Revivals. Therefore if you have a house of a particular period then a chimneypiece of the corresponding antique Revival or Neo period would serve well in the absence of an original "de l'epoque" as it also has a presence and patina, a history....a pedigree.