From Hearth to Chimney, when?

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Wiblick
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From Hearth to Chimney, when?

Post by Wiblick »

Has anyone any idea when chimneys were first built? When they came into general use, everywhere, rural homes of ordinary people, not just townhouses or castles.

When would 'everyone' be living with a chimney stack rather than a central hearth on the floor.

Lady Cecily
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Post by Lady Cecily »

I'll have to check some books at home but I think probably by the 16th century but your bound to have some old codger of a farmer with string for a belt saying 'I don't hold with them new fangled chimbleys".

It's a very interesting development in domestic architechture - where screens passages are lost to install the chimney and I always enjoy looking at early buildings to see where they got slotted in.

Why do you ask?
Caroline

m300572
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Post by m300572 »

Development of the fireplace and chimney stack with which we are familiar was via smoke bays (a shallow bay in a timber framed house where the fire was sited, open up to the rood where there would be a chimney) and the smoke hood - a canopy over a fireplace built against a wall to catch the smoke and funel it up to the chimney.

It is likely that the idea of a stack came in at slightly different times in different areas, and different social stations but as far as I can recall most lowland houses had shimneys by around the 16th C - in areas such as the highlands of Scotland and probably upland Wales the longhouse with a central fire in the living room was probably in use until much later (into the 19th and possibly even the early 20th C in some places perhaps).

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Wiblick
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Post by Wiblick »

Lady Cecily wrote:Why do you ask?
I was just mulling over my "typical medieval household" spiel for the MOPs this year and I got to thinking that I don't know when the first fireplace, in terms of in a wall with some form of chimney structure, came into being.

I did an internet search but couldn't think how to phrase it.

So thank-you to you both. I'd still be interested in learing more. What I'm trying to understand was when we moved from having, esentially, a camp fire on the floor to one with a chimney above it.

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Post by m300572 »

If you can get into the local library and have a hunt under vernacular architecture you may find something useful - local traditions vary as i said . For UK stuff, Ron Brunskills books on the Vernacular Architectire of Britain are a good starting point - he has done one on the Houses and Cottages of Britain which may give you a lot of the details you want.

Higher status houses would have been likely to have fireplaces earlier. And remember the fixtures and fittings for cooking all change when you have a fireplace rather than a central hearth - you start to need cranes and hangers built into the chimney, rather than freestanding tripods and the like over the central fire although high status dwellings would have a separate kitchen for cooking to reduce the fire risk.

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Wiblick
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Post by Wiblick »

this is great thanks, I just love the way there is an expert or book for nearly every topic.

As I said my problem was not knowing what language to use to do my search.

Will look into the books, thanks.

Lady Cecily
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Post by Lady Cecily »

I knew this wouldn't be simple. Central fireplaces persisit into the 18th century - and not just in poor households - Trinity College only moved theirs to the side in 1754.

Central hearths were not necessarily open to the whole room and evidence for canopys and wooden smoke hoods exist.

Fireplaces in the side of the room appear in the 11th century along with chimneys - but that's because they are in stone castles. Wooden examples by their very nature don't survive.

Louvers in the roof were also used for smoke control.

One of the best books on timber framed buildings is Shire Publications Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings by Richard Harris

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 89-9849505

Somewhat old but still useful The English Medieval House by M Wood is also worth a look at.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 89-9849505
Caroline

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Post by guthrie »

My happen'oth- I think that chimneys, as a matter of a long bit of pipe through the wall came more into use in the 17th century, partly because of the proliferation of stone built houses at that time.

Yet if you go up north to see the Black Houses in the Scottish Islands, they sometimes still had fires in the middle of the floor well into the 20th century.

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madjon
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Post by madjon »

what about king charles tax on chimneys in the 17th century would that be a a tax which slowed the adoption of the chimney?

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Post by m300572 »

king charles tax on chimneys in the 17th century
It was actually a 'Hearth' Tax so technically could have been applied to a fire in the middle of the floor - I think it was only payable if you had more than one hearth (from a memory of reeling through hearth tax returns).

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