Firebacks

560mm tall

  1. 26

    burwash,_batemans 04.jpg
    360 x 560 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shape with swirled and draped foliage across the top; fillet edging with bottom panel containing indistinct floral scrolls; figure of Plenty/Abundance holding a bunch of fruit, accompanied on her left by a cherub, and receiving a further bunch of fruit from a faun to her right; two cherubs hold foliage aloft.

    Notes: The figure of Plenty is one of the representations in the Iconologia, published in the early 17th century by Cesare Ripa, and subsequently in other editions. They frequently form the subject of firebacks.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the early 18th century in England.

    Current location: Bateman's, Burwash, East Sussex, England.

    Museum number: NT/BAT/M/99 (part of the National Trust museum group)

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

  2. 179

    hastings_066.jpg
    840 x 560 mm

    Description: Rectangular; double fillet moulded edging; top centre, on a rectangular block, shield of the arms of the Fowle family - (Gules) a lion passant guardant between three roses (Or); on each side, two rectangles, each containing a helm and the crest of the Fowles - an Arm in armour holding a Battle axe issuant from a Ducal Coronet, above each being the date, 1603, and below each the initials, WF. Across the lower half of the fireback are two solid triangular prisms of iron.

    Notes: The stamps relate to William Fowle (1568-1634), ironmaster of Riverhall furnace. The shield stamp also appears on grave slabs in Wadhurst and Frant churches and on an unprovenanced graveslab in Maidstone Museum. The iron prisms were included, perhaps, to retain heat and to prevent the fireback from cracking.

    Inscription: 1603 WF [twice]

    Arms: William Fowle, of Frant and Wadhurst

    Manufactured: in 1603 probably at Riverhall furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Hastings, East Sussex, England.

    Museum number: 952.51.59 (part of the Hastings Museum museum group)

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

  3. 370

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 005.jpg
    >590 x >560 mm

    Description: Fragment; left side only; twisted rope edging to left, canted moulded batten above; left hand print with dividers to its right.

    Notes: An unusual combination of edging. The dividers may refer to the occupation of the person for whom this fireback was cast.

    Manufactured: in the mid to late 16th century in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Anne of Cleves House, Southover High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, England.

    Museum number: LH000.798 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

    Citation: Anon., 30 Dec 1911, 'Sussex Backs and their Story', The Ironmonger.

    Citation: Dawson, C., 1903, 'Sussex Iron Work and Pottery', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 46, pp. 1-54.

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

    Citation: Schubert, H. R., 1957, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry (London, Routledge), pp. 256-264.

    Citation: Starkie Gardner, J., 1898, 'Iron Casting in the Weald', Archaeologia, 56, 1, pp. 133-164.

  4. 409

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 043.jpg
    710 x 560 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shape, semi-circular protrusions on top corners; circular loop at top of arch; fillet edging with small twists inside arch, and curls inside and below top corners; a phoenix in flames, its wings displayed and inverted.

    Notes: The use of the loop in the edging draws comparisons with other firebacks, and may indicate the same source.

    Manufactured: in the mid to late 17th century possibly in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Anne of Cleves House, Southover High Street, Lewes, e, England.

    Museum number: 1944.24.061 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

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

    Citation: Schubert, H. R., 1957, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry (London, Routledge), pp. 256-264.

  5. 431

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 067b.jpg
    1215 x 560 mm

    Description: Rectangular; twisted rope edging (top and sides); undulating vine strip repeated in a line four times along the top, and four times vertically on each side of central inscription panel, with shorter vine strip repeated below vertical strips on each side.

    Notes: One of several firebacks that re-use the memorial inscription to 'Ane Forster' (Anne Foster) of Crowhurst, Surrey. The vine strip stamp is seen on other firebacks. The excrescence obscuring part of the text was probably the result of clumsy pouring of the iron during casting which displced some of the sand mould.

    Inscription: HER:LIETH:ANE:FORST / R:DAVGHTER:AND: / HEYR:TO:THOMAS: / GAYNSFORD:ESQVIER / DECEASED:XVIII:OF: / IANVARI:1591:LEAVYNG / BEHIND:HER:II:SONES: / AND:V:DAVGHTERS

    Manufactured: in the late 16th century possibly at Pounsley furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Hall Place, Bexley, Kent, England.

    Museum number: LH000.904 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2018, 'The Anne Forster Firebacks', Surrey Archaeological Collections, 101, 99-114.

  6. 817

    mayfield,_monks manor.jpg
    742 x 560 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; fillet edging; shield, helm, crest and mantling of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths (see Fig. 3); date in top corners; initials at bottom, below mantling; two planklines.

    Notes: One of the hooked ‘1’ series; a copy from an evenly impressed original.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 50 / I M

    Arms: Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: in private hands, Mayfield, East Sussex, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2012, 'Pre-Restoration Iron Firebacks', Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, 20, pp. 2-15

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

  7. 211

    penhalvean,_kernow_furniture_530x560.jpg
    530 x 560 mm

    Description: Rectangular with arched, mirrored, scrolls on top, a cartouche scallop shell between; fillet edging; between two trees, three soldiers in Roman dress, holding either pikes, swords or shields, one on a plinth; at the bottom, a separate rectangular panel with mirrored scrolled foliage.

    Notes: Possibly intended to represent the Horatii who, according to Livy, defeated the Curiatii.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the early 18th century in England.

    Current location: Kernow Furniture, Penhalvean Pottery, Penhalvean, Cornwall, England.

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

  8. 623

    ripley_038.jpg
    675 x 560 mm

    Description: Rectangular; ovolo moulded edging (top and sides); at top, date split by initials (with dot between).

    Notes: A bold, elegant plate with characters in high relief. The character set is known to have been used for another fireback cast at Heathfield Furnace, Sussex.

    Inscription: 17 I·P 54

    Manufactured: in 1754 at Heathfield furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Mark Ripley Forge & Fireplaces, Northbridge Street, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, England.

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

  9. 646

    rochester_03.jpg
    450 x 560 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; fillet edging; bell-flower column repeated on each side; at bottom, central rectangular panel, fillet edged, enclosing outstretched wings; above, intertwined leaves in figure-of-eight, enclosing a crown at the top.

    Notes: This fireback incorporates features of the ‘Dutch’ style but within an English form.

    Manufactured: in the mid to late 17th century in England.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3484 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

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

  10. 1079

    stoke-on-trent,_ford green hall.jpg
    ?610 x ?560 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shape; fillet edging, indented on the inner edge; pictorial representation of a phoenix rising from flames, date split either side of its neck; the lateral edges are wide in relation to the top, from which the arch rises from two loop and is surmounted by a fleur-de-lys; above each shoulder of the plate, a roundel.

    Notes: The looped fillet edging is rarely seen and does not seem to be diagnostic of a particular pattern-maker.

    Inscription: 16 77

    Manufactured: in 1677 possibly in the Staffordshire area of England.

    Current location: Ford Green Hall, Ford Green Road, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.

    (part of the Stoke-on-Trent Museums museum group)