Firebacks

In the English Heritage museum group

  1. 842

    atcham_01.jpg
    447 x 524 mm

    Description: Arched shape; cavetto-moulded edging invected on the inner edge; Tudor rose surmounted by a royal crown; monogram in bottom right corner.

    Notes: The monogram, RN, is associated with the invected cavetto moulding; a recasting, replicating an earlier crack.

    Inscription: RN

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

    Current location: English Heritage Store, Atcham Business Park, Atcham, Shropshire, England.

    Museum number: EH ASC 4490 (part of the English Heritage museum group)

  2. 844

    atcham_02.jpg
    395 x 575 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular central panel; fillet edging; pictorial scene of a cloaked figure, to the right, tempting a dog, to the left, with a tasty morsel; behind are the outlines of a door and window; arched rectangular border with fillet edging, the date along the bottom; down each side, a floral festoon; over the arch, the inscription, the initials split between each side of the main inscription; on top, floral scrolls.

    Notes: The inscription translates as 'loyalty above gifts'; some castings omit the initials, NL, indicating that they were a subsequent addition. The illustration is derived from 'The thief and the dog', one of a series of engravings of Aesop's Fables by Wenceslaus Hollar.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: N / FIDES DONA SUPERAT / L // 1696

    Manufactured: in 1696 possibly in the Siegerland area of Germany.

    Current location: English Heritage Store, Atcham Business Park, Atcham, Shropshire, England.

    Museum number: EH ASC 4491 (part of the English Heritage museum group)

  3. 295

    gainsborough_old hall 01.jpg
    665 x 722 mm

    Description: Five-facetted arched shape; ovolo-moulded edging comprising two separate lengths of moulding repeated to form sides and arch; shield of Hickman (per pale indented argent and azure) impaling Nevile (?gules a saltire argent) within repeated laurel leaves inside a scrolled cartouche; date top centre.

    Notes: William Hickman of Old Hall, Gainsborough, 2nd Baronet (1629-82), married Elizabeth Neville of Mattersey, Nottinghamshire, c.1652. The multi-facetted arch calls to mind a series of firebacks cast in the Weald which are also associated with the Nevills (see 1589 series), although they are of earlier date.

    Inscription: 1658

    Arms: Hickman impaling Neville; Sir William Hickman

    Manufactured: in 1658 in England.

    Current location: Gainsborough Old Hall, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England.

    (part of the English Heritage museum group)

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

    Citation: Peacock, E., 1881, [note on Iron Slab with armorial bearings found at Blyton, near Gainsborough], Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 2nd series, 8, pp. 44-5.

  4. 882

    hampstead,_124 heath street (nmr).jpg
    730 x ?485 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; simulated twisted rope edging (top & sides); symmetrical triad arrangement of fleurs de lys (two types - 2 and 1), diamond shapes (2) and cross-cut squares (4) includes the monogram in which the letters I and F are separated by a small, hollow diamond stamp, the M being above between I and reversed B; interspersed symmetrical arrangement of raised spots (8).

    Notes: The initials, IMF, as with other triple-lettered forms, in which the middle letter is set apart from the other two, may relate to a married couple where their surname initial is M; a variant of the more common version but with additional letters I and B separately stamped. Full-scale pencil drawing (anon.) in Historic England Record Centre, Swindon, Wiltshire (MD96/06202) of a fireback originally at 124 Heath Street (formerly the Upper Flask Tavern), Hampstead, London.

    Inscription: 1613 / I M B / I F

    Manufactured: in 1613 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location:, not known.

    Museum number: MD96/06202 (part of the English Heritage museum group)

  5. 355

    kenilworth_castle.jpg
    860 x 850 mm

    Description: Rectangular joined to pediment by symmetrical scrolls; fillet edging with embattling inside; shield, helm, crest, supporters and mantling of the city of Bristol; date split by bottom of shield; inscription in an oval cartouche below shield.

    Notes: Both '3's in the date are a substitution, with another casting suggesting an original date of 1614 or 1624. The pattern-maker was also responsible for carving royal coats of arms in three West Country churches and a small number of series of firebacks in the first quarter of the 17th century.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 33 / [ARMES] BRISTOLL

    Arms: City of Bristol

    Manufactured: in 1633 possibly in the Forest of Dean area of England.

    Current location: Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England.

    Museum number: 88278827 (part of the English Heritage museum group)

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

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2017, 'Church Armorials and Firebacks: Evidence of an Early 17th-Century Woodcarver', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 135, pp. 213-223.

    Citation: Russell, A. J., 1978, 'The Fireback in Willey Farmhouse, Chaldon', Local History Records, 17 (The Bourne Society), pp. 8-9.

  6. 1246

    warkworth_castle,_dukes_room.jpg
    750 x 905 mm

    Description: Low-arched shape within broad fillet edging marked with a repeated leaf pattern ascending toward the top; on an incised criss-cross field a Tudor royal shield, quarterly France Modern and England, supported by a stylised, scaly dragon and greyhound and surmounted by a crown, all resting on a two-stepped compartment with cavetto- and astragal-moulded edging at the top.

    Notes: Pastiche 'Tudor' design by George Shaw of Saddleworth, Lancashire, c.1850, possibly intended to be passed off as genuine Tudor. Examples are also to be found in Lichfield Guildhall (without the leaf pattern on the edging and the 'scales' on the dragon) and Cheetham's Library, Manchester. Firebacks of the same armorial design within a different, arched rectangular, edging are known, an example being at Hever Castle, Kent.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Arms: Tudor royal

    Manufactured: in the mid 19th century possibly in the Lancashire area of England.

    Current location: Warkworth Castle, Warkworth, Northumberland, England.

    (part of the English Heritage museum group)

    Citation: Brooke, S., 2022, 'Appendix IV George Shaw (1810-1876)', Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art and Architecture, 8, 3, pp. 162-183.

    Citation: Foyle, J. & Lindfield, P., 2021, 'A Forger's Folly?: George Shaw's Productions for Cheetham's Library, Manchester', The British Art Journal, 21, 3, pp. 42-50.