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Why Important

What to look for

Mantelpieces of softwood, such as red pine, painted and carved or enriched with stucco or composition, were common until the early nineteenth century; Mirrors were placed over mantelpieces from the 1790s onwards.

Later Georgian houses in the Hamilton Square had marble mantelpieces; white Italian statuary marble, with yellow, sienna or verde antique inlays, was the most expensive, clouded white or other coloured marbles were cheaper.

In general, drawing rooms had white and dining rooms had black marble or slate fireplaces; the variety of figuring and fossils in the black marble is notable. Scagiola (imitation marble made of plaster, mixed with variously coloured pieces of marble) was popular.

When to look

The mantelpiece was held in position by steel wires set in the plaster and fixed to dooks (wooden plugs) in the wall. This has given rise to problems, as the wires can rust and stain white or light coloured marble, and can cause the mantelpiece to become detached from the wall.

How to fix

Today the usual practice is to use copper wire with a bent or curled end to hold the mantelpiece more securely. The final coat of plaster would have been put on the wall around the mantelpiece once it was in position.

Avoiding creating problems

Historical background

In secondary rooms, such as bedrooms, fireplaces would have plain stone (Hailes) jambs and lintel, later trimmed with a bolection moulding of timber with a timber frieze and shelf above.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, iron mantelpieces were cast in one piece with the grates.

After 1860, wood, iron and ceramic tiles were combined in a wide range of designs, to which brass trim and brass or copper smoke hoods were added.

mantelpieces.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/15 15:29 by 2a01:4f8:162:53c7::2