Firebacks

Manufactured at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu

  1. 1056

    beaulieu,palace_house 01.jpg
    920 x 685 mm

    Description: Canted rectangle; moulded fillet edging (top and sides); top line, 'daisy' plant stamp repeated three times, spaced evenly, with 'SOWLY' in a block, a ducal coronet above, between the left two, and '1721' in individual numerals, a ducal coronet above, between the right two; a swirling foliage stamp repeated down each side, a 'daisy' plant below each; initials 'I' and 'B' separately in bottom corners.

    Notes: Sowley was the iron furnace in Hampshire owned in 1721 by the 2nd duke of Montagu, whose coronet is seen in the decoration, and operated by John White of Monmouth. The swirled foliage stamp is seen on other firebacks identified by the letters 'IB' between 1703 and 1721, probably indicating the same founder.

    Inscription: SOWLY 1721 / I B

    Manufactured: in 1721 at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu in the New Forest area of England.

    Current location: Palace House, Beaulieu, Hampshire, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., Autumn 2020, 'A Series of Distinctive Firebacks', Base Thoughts, Newsletter of the Antique Metalware Society, pp. 7-8.

  2. 1057

    beaulieu,palace_house 02.jpg
    1000 x 685 mm

    Description: Rectangular; moulded fillet edging (top and sides); left justified text in upper case, in two lines: Tunc bonus est ignis cum pendet stiria tignis (Then fire is good when icicles hang from the eaves); below left, 'SOWLY' in a block; below right, '1721' in individual numerals; a swirling foliage stamp repeated down each side; initials 'I' and 'B' separately in bottom corners.

    Notes: The source of the inscription is 'A Dictionarie in English and Latine for Children' by William Clark (London, Thomas Purfoot, 1602), p. 13. Sowley was the iron furnace in Hampshire owned in 1721 by the 2nd duke of Montagu and operated by John White of Monmouth. The swirled foliage stamp is seen on other firebacks identified by the letters 'IB' between 1703 and 1721, probably indicating the same founder.

    Inscription: TUNC BONUS EST IGNIS / CUM PENDET STIRIA TIGNIS / SOWLY 1721/ I B

    Manufactured: in 1721 at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu in the New Forest area of England.

    Current location: Palace House, Beaulieu, Hampshire, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., Autumn 2020, 'A Series of Distinctive Firebacks', Base Thoughts, Newsletter of the Antique Metalware Society, pp. 7-8.

  3. 1058

    beaulieu,palace_house 03.jpg
    645 x 755 mm

    Description: Rectangular; cavetto-moulded edging with an astragal inside; baroque-style shield of Montagu impaling Wriothesley.

    Notes: Ralph Montagu (1638-1709), afterwards Earl of Montagu and later Duke, married Elizabeth Percy, née Wriothesley, daughter of the 4th Earl of Southampton, in 1673. She died in 1690; thus the fireback dates to between 1673 and 1690; Blazon: (Montagu) Argent, three lozenges conjoined in fess gules, a border sable; (Wriothesley) Azure, a cross or between four falcons close argent.

    Arms: Montagu impaling Wriothesley

    Manufactured: in the late 17th century probably at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu in England.

    Current location: Palace House, Beaulieu, Hampshire, England.

  4. 1292

    goodwood_house.jpg
    905 x 1070 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; Greek Key border with fillet edges; in high relief, in front of swagged drapery, the shield of, quarterly, France quartering England, Scotland and Ireland, surrounded by a Garter, and surmounted by a ducal coronet; below, the inscription in capitals.

    Notes: The use of the Greek Key design as a border is believed to be unique for an English fireback. Although somewhat indistinct, the use of the Stuart royal arms and the ducal coronet can be explained by the fact that the fireback was one of a group cast for the 2nd Duke of Richmond, whose father, the 1st duke, was the illegitimate son of Charles II and Louise de Kéroualle. The Richmond arms were differenced from the Stuart royal arms by the addition of a bordure compony (the detail of which is not distinct on this casting). Sowley Furnace, near Beaulieu in Hampshire, was owned in 1732 by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, and was let to Miles Troughton. An identical fireback also at Goodwood is dated 1731 and a similar, but smaller, variant of this fireback, is dated 1732.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE / SOWLEY MDCCXXX

    Arms: Duke of Richmond

    Manufactured: in 1730 at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu in the New Forest area of England.

    Current location: Goodwood House, Westhampnett, West Sussex, England.

  5. 1108

    islington,_criterion auctions.jpg
    540 x 810 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; Greek Key border with fillet edges; in high relief, in front of swagged drapery, the shield of, quarterly, France quartering England, Scotland and Ireland, surrounded by a Garter, and surmounted by a ducal coronet; below, the inscription in capitals.

    Notes: The use of the Greek Key design as a border is believed to be unique for an English fireback. Although somewhat indistinct, the use of the Stuart royal arms and the ducal coronet can be explained by the fact that the fireback was one of a group cast for the 2nd Duke of Richmond, whose father, the 1st duke, was the illegitimate son of Charles II and Louise de Kéroualle. The Richmond arms were differenced from the Stuart royal arms by the addition of a bordure compony (the detail of which is not distinct on this casting). Sowley Furnace, near Beaulieu in Hampshire, was owned in 1732 by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, and was let to Miles Troughton. Similar, but larger, variants of this fireback are at Goodwood House, the seat of the Dukes of Richmond, where this fireback is likely to have once been. Criterion Auctions, Islington, 7 Jan 2019, lot 128 (£50).

    Inscription: HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE / SOWLEY MDCCXXXII

    Arms: Duke of Richmond

    Manufactured: in 1732 at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu in the New Forest area of England.

    Current location: not known.

  6. 762

    va_38.jpg
    600 x 680 mm

    Description: Rectangular; astragal and fillet edging; oval shield of the Paulet family (sable three swords, points conjoined in pile), within a cartouche, surmounted by a marquis’s coronet; date split between bottom corners.

    Notes: The arms of Charles Paulet, 6th Marquess of Winchester, who succeeded to the title in 1674 and was created Duke of Bolton in 1689. The fireback is reported to have come from Grange Farm, Basing House, Hampshire; Basing House was the seat of the Paulets.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 87

    Arms: Charles Paulet, 6th Marquess of Winchester

    Manufactured: in 1687 possibly at Sowley Furnace, Beaulieu in England.

    Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, England.

    Museum number: M.103-1913 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).