Firebacks

Manufactured in 1588

  1. 247

    chawton_house 01.jpg
    1185 x 870 mm

    Description: A modified recasting of a variant of the ‘Armada’ fireback, with changed initials, a single anchor panel, and the addition of plain base and borders, the latter each with a twisted rope saltire, upper middle.

    Notes: It is likely that an original four-panel fireback has been used to recast a copy with additional side and base panels. A second fireback at the house, identical but for being 1% smaller all round, has a full-width extension on top bearing four symmetrical rope saltires, the outer two larger than the inner two; the saltires may have apotropaic significance. The reduction in size of the common elements due to shrinkage suggests the first example was used to make the second. It is alleged that John Knight, who built Chawton House, was rewarded with a fireback for contributing £50 to the Crown at the time of the Armada emergency; given that a great many of the gentry and aristocracy made similar contributions, this story is improbable. It seems likely that this putative original was used to make these two subsequent copies.

    Inscription: 1588 / IK

    Manufactured: in 1588 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Chawton House, Chawton, Hampshire, England.

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

  2. 41

    cuckfield_park 02.jpg
    765 x 675 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; rope edging (top and sides); Tudor royal shield, garter, crown and supporters (crowned lion and dragon); date above crown; empty motto compartment with initials below.

    Notes: Identical arms can be seen on fireback formerly at Baynards Park, Cranleigh, and in private hands at Maresfield, but without the motto compartment; minor variations in the position of individual elements indicate that the garter and shield, crown, and each supporter were separately stamped; the initials are likely to be those of Henry Bowyer, ironmaster (d.1588), the fireback perhaps being made in his memory.

    Inscription: 1588 HB

    Arms: Tudor royal (Elizabeth I)

    Manufactured: in 1588 possibly at Pounsley furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: in private hands, Cuckfield, West Sussex, England.

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

  3. 281

    ellesborough,_chequers 07.jpg
    790 x 690 mm

    Description: This fireback comprises at least four separate elements: the rectangular central panel has an anchor with coiled rope between two fleurs de lys, below which are two roses; the two rectangular side panels each comprise a vertical stem with six grape bunches surmounted by a smaller bunch; above, a semicircular arch contains the initials between two roses as in the central panel, with the date above; where the arch meets the central panel there is an arc across each corner; the top and sides panels are edged with simulated twisted rope.

    Notes: A variant of the well-known ‘Armada’ fireback.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 1588 / IFC

    Manufactured: in 1588 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Chequers, Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire, England.

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

  4. 439

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 079.jpg
    >660 x 795 mm

    Description: Fragment; left part only; this fireback comprises at least four separate elements: the rectangular central panel has an anchor with coiled rope between two fleurs de lys, below which are two roses; the rectangular side panels each comprise a vertical stem with six ‘grape bunches’ surmounted by a circular grape cluster; above, a semicircular arch contains the initials between two roses as in the central panel, with the date above; where the arch meets the central panel there is an arc across each corner. The side and top panels are edged with simulated twisted rope; to the left and botoom, a plain extension has been added before casting.

    Notes: Because of its date and the use of the anchor motif, this much-copied plate is often referred to as the Armada fireback. No other connection with the sea battle is known. Other firebacks have been cast using some of the separate elements described.

    Inscription: 1588 / IFC

    Manufactured: in 1588 in the Weald area of England.

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

    Museum number: 1944.24.060 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

  5. 822

    mayfield,_yeomans.jpg
    1030 x 680 mm

    Description: Repeated rectangular panels each bearing an anchor with coiled rope between two fleurs de lys, below which are two roses and a grape bunch beneath; the two rectangular side panels each comprise a vertical stem with six grape bunches surmounted by a smaller bunch; above, a semicircular arch contains the initials between two roses as in the central panel, with the date above; where the arch meets the central panel there is an arc across each corner; the top and sides panels are edged with simulated twisted rope.

    Notes: The bottom panel is absent from this variant.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 1588 / IFC

    Manufactured: in 1588 in the Weald area of England.

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

  6. 736

    va_12.jpg
    1030 x 890 mm

    Description: Other examples indicate that this fireback comprises at least four separate elements: the rectangular central panel has an anchor with coiled rope between two fleurs de lys, below which are two roses; this arrangement is repeated alongside; the two rectangular side panels each comprise a vertical stem with six ‘raspberries’ surmounted by a circular berry cluster; above, a semicircular arch contains the initials between two roses as in the central panel, with the date above; where the arch meets the central panel there is an arc across each corner; on the rectangular base panel, on a stippled ground, is a central six-pointed star and a four-strand root system beneath each of the stems in the side panels. The top and sides panels are edged with simulated twisted rope.

    Notes: Because of its date and the use of the anchor motif, this much-copied plate is often referred to as the Armada fireback. No other connection with the sea battle is known. Other firebacks have been cast using some of the separate elements described above.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 1588 / IFC

    Manufactured: in 1588 in the Weald area of England.

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

    Museum number: M.77-1957 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)

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

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

    Citation: Lloyd, N., 1925, 'Domestic Ironwork I', Architectural Review, 58, pp. 58-67.

  7. 788

    westerham,_squerryes court 02.jpg
    565 x 695 mm

    Description: Rectangular central panel bearing an anchor with coiled rope between two fleurs de lys, below which are two roses; this arrangement is repeated alongside; above, a semicircular arch contains the initials between two roses as in the central panel, with the date above; where the arch meets the central panel there is an arc across each corner; The top and sides panels are edged with simulated twisted rope.

    Notes: This reduced version of the Armada fireback demonstrates how individual panels can be omitted or repeated.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 1588 / IFC

    Manufactured: in 1588 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Squerryes Court, Westerham, Kent, England.

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