Firebacks

Manufactured in 1633

  1. 1064

    dunsfold,_pound farm a.jpg
    1270 x 850 mm

    Description: A rectangular field with a central circle containing a fouled anchor, the rope gathered in eleven loops around it; in the top spandrels the initials HH, on the left, and IH, on the right; below the circle, the initials IM inset in a square; on each side, a strapwork Ionic pilaster formed of alternate hollow squares, with a pyramidal infill in low relief, and hollow circles; outside each pilaster, a crouching stylised humanoid figure, facing inwards, disgorging a fructed vine; above the figures two opposed volutes, forming part of the edging; above the central field, a semi-circular compartment containing a bird, its wings inverted, and three hollow diamond shapes irregularly arranged; the date above the bird; protruding from the edging above each pilaster is a small, inward-facing scroll. Three vertical plank lines can be discerned, one in front of the right-hand figure, one through the I of the initials IH, and one to the right of the second H of the initials HH. The whole design is in low relief.

    Notes: This is a reworking of a design seen on a fireback of 1608 (see Phoenix Firebacks no. 585) though intentionally stylised. The decorative elements have yet to be fully interpreted; on the 1608 version the figures are fauns, the vines disgorged from their mouths being related to the 'green man' tradition associated with woodland spirits and symbolising resurrection, the latter echoed by the bird which, on the earlier version is a phoenix. However, in the form in which they appear on both firebacks they may be purely decorative devices. By contrast, the cabled anchor is the badge of the Lord High Admiral but in 1633 the office was vacant. The initials IM indicate that this is an early work by a prolific fireback pattern-maker more usually associated with the eastern Weald.

    Inscription: 1633 / HH IH / IM

    Manufactured: in 1633 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Pound Farm, Common Road, Dunsfold, Surrey, England.

    Citation: Wall, J. R. S., 20 May 1965, 'Wealden Fireback' [letter], Country Life, p. 1208.

  2. 293

    flaxley_abbey 03.jpg
    900 x 733 mm

    Description: Canted rectangle; inset twisted rope edging (top and sides); stamp formed of a statuette of an standing angel with left hand at the waist, and holding a sceptre in the right hand; date split either side of angel; initials in triad above angel; small face stamp repeated three times, one each side of angel, and one below.

    Notes: The identity of those to whom the initials refer is not known; the use of the angel statuette is a rare inclusion of a religious motif on an English fireback. A variant of this fireback is at the Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway, Worcestershire.

    Inscription: IHI [triad] / 16 33

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

    Current location: Flaxley Abbey, Flaxley, Gloucestershire, England.

    Citation: Bick, D. E., Sept 1985, 'Firebacks', Period Homes Magazine, pp. 21-4.

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

  3. 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: The use of embattling inside the edge and the form of the numbers ‘1’ and '6' in the date suggests that this fireback may be the work of the pattern maker identified on other firebacks as ‘RN’; both '3's have been substituted, indicating an earlier original. The pattern-maker was also responsible for carving royal coats of arms in three West Country churches.

    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.