Choosing fire accessories for your surround
Fire grates are often considered a secondary decision after buying a surround but, as the fireplace is often the centrepiece of the room, choosing the right one can be as important to the final aesthetic as the mantel itself.
Of course, before the 15th century, the word ’centrepiece’ would have been more of a literal description, as fireplaces of the day were just an open hearth in the middle of the room with a couple of fire dogs to hold the logs.
Fireplaces were moved to the wall to accommodate canopies to guide the smoke away – with some medieval kitchens having an opening large enough for a cooking spit – and the early 16th century saw the introduction of the enclosed wall fireplace with a flue.
The fire surround as we know it today was devised during the Renaissance in Italy, and although fire dogs were still in use, they were replaced by the basket or dog grate when coal was introduced.
Through the decades, fire grates and baskets – initially fashioned in a simple and practical manner – were embellished with engravings, complicated fretwork and other design features, becoming a sought after and very desirable addition to the fireplace.
We have a wide variety of grates, registers and baskets in our inventory and one of our most recent acquisitions is this superb,19th century French Rococo fire basket. With foliate legs, shaped cast iron back and unusual bombe front bars, it is a fabulous piece that would be perfectly complemented by a French Louis XV, XVI surround.
The cast iron dogs pictured, with scrolled feet and polished disc tops, are also French and would be a great choice for a more rustic look.