Description: Rectangle with two similar rectangular extensions at top extremities; rope edging (top and sides); on top extensions, two stamps of a dragon and lion supporting a rose and crown, with crowned shield bearing a fleur de lys below; central date with rose and crown below; initials TM vertically placed inside middle left edge, initial I middle right; initials I and A at lower left and right.
Notes: The initials, TM and I, may relate to a married couple, the first two letters to their first names and the last to their surname; the initials IA may be of the founder. The unusual shape would probably have been determined by the structure of the hearth for which it was made; the rose and crown and supporters stamp can also be seen on a large fireback, dated 1593, formerly at Baynard's Park, Surrey; the date and IA stamps can be seen, in identical form, on a fireback in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and on firebacks illustrated by Lower, suggesting a common source for all of these firebacks.
Inscription: TM 1582 I / I A
Current location: Haslemere Educational Museum, Haslemere, Surrey, England.
(part of the Haslemere Educational Museum museum group)
Description: Rectangular with central triangular arch; twisted rope edging (top and sides); in arch, on top, a small cross with fleur terminals, above a rose and crown with dragon and lion supporters, above two crowned shields each bearing a small fleur-de-lys; text across top half, split by the crowned shields, each word separated by two fleur terminals; across the lower part, four crowned shields each with a fleur-de-lys; fleur crosses at ends of first and third lines; bottom left, ‘I’; bottom right, ‘A’.
Notes: No record of Thomas Unstead or his wife has been found, to date; illustrated in Lower, 1849 p. 189; formerly at Misfield [Miswell], Worth, Sussex. One of a series of distinctive firebacks cast in 1582, most with inscriptions relating to pairs of individuals.
Inscription: THOMAS VNSTE / ADIS : FILD AND DINIS / HIS : WIF: ANO : DOMINO: / 1582 / I A
Description: Arched rectangular shape; twisted rope edging (top and sides); in arch; rose and crown with dragon and lion supporters, above a fleur cross and a crowned shield bearing a small fleur-de-lys; text across top half, each word separated by two fleur terminals; lower left and right, twice repeated eight-pointed star design formed of twisted rope with fleur-de-lys terminals; bottom left, ‘I’; bottom right, ‘A’.
Notes: A James Hide married Joan Blackefane at Horley, Surrey on 11th October 1579; illustrated in Lower, 1849 p. 217, when it was at Sutton Hurst, Barcombe, Sussex (still there in 1893). One of a series of distinctive firebacks cast in 1582, most with inscriptions relating to pairs of individuals.
Inscription: THES : IS FOR IAMES : / HIDE : AND : ION : HIS : WIF [W inverted] / 1582 / I A
Description: Arched rectangular shape; twisted rope edging (top and sides only); three water bougets (leather water containers) at top; knotted cord and tassel decoration on each side; centred inscription on six lines with ‘S’ reversed, bar across top of ‘A’ and letters individually placed and separated by double fleurs-de-lys].
Notes: The approximately mirrored cord decoration appears to have been affixed to shaped boards. The Wealden origin of this fireback suggests possible connections with the Roos, or de Ros, family, who owned property in Easebourne, or the Meeres family of Glynleigh, near Hailsham, the arms of both families incorporating water bougets. A connection, proposed by the Victoria and Albert Museum, with the Helmsley family of Yorkshire is improbable. One of a series of distinctive firebacks cast in 1582, most with inscriptions relating to pairs of individuals.
Inscription: THES:IS:FOR / WILAM:BRON / AND:ELISAB: / TH:HIS:SISTR / 15 82 / I A
Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, England.
Museum number: M.977-1926 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)
Description: Arched rectangular shape with canted top corners; astragal-and-fillet and cavetto moulded strip on each side, angled at top; raised central square panel bearing main inscription in sans-serif characters justified to left (2s formed like Zs); irregular arrangement of small ‘serrated’ square stamps repeated 29 times in two vertical groups of 12 on each side of the inscription panel (6 on the outside, side to side, 6 on the inside, roughly corner to corner); 2 squares, side to side, below each side of the arch, above the inscription panel; 1 square at top of arch between non-matching initials.
Notes: The inscription is the same as on the iron plate above the grave of Richard Gray in Withyham church; another fireback, said to have the same inscription, was formerly at Wolvesey Palace, Winchester, and later in Winchester Museum, but is now missing; the moulding strips are likely to have been derived from furniture. Frances Ashbie and Richard Graye's godson, Richard, the son of William Ashbie, were among the beneficiaries of Richard Graye's will and the initials, IA, on the fireback may relate to another member of that family. The fireback was noted at Sompting, near Lancing, West Sussex, in the 1820s.
Inscription: I A / ANNO·DOMINI·1582 / THE·27·DAY·OF·· / FEBRVARYE·DYED· / RICHARDE·GRAYE / PARSON·OF· · / WYTHIHAM·
Current location: St Michael's church, Withyham, East Sussex, England.