“A stove is quite simply an enclosed heated space. The forerunner to the stove was a fire covered by an iron plate surrounded on three sides by bricks and mortar. The Hearth Act of 1662 taxed Irish people on the number of stoves, chimneys and hearths they owned so stoves were a status symbol, a sign of wealth.”
The first stove to completely enclose a fire didn’t appear until 1735. Designed by French architect François de Cuvilliés, the Castrol Stove was a masonry construction with several fire holes covered by perforated iron plates. Seven years later Englishman Benjamin Franklin developed a new style of stove with a hood to the front and air box to the rear. Franklin declined the patent he was offered; he wanted everyone to benefit from his invention.
Perhaps the most celebrated historic stove is the towering blue and white tiled edifice constructed to heat the White Dining Room of St Catherine’s Palace in St Petersburg – a real status symbol! Ceramic stoves continued to be made into the 20th century, but once cast iron came along it replaced ceramic. Cast iron was recognised as a good conductor and radiator of heat; steel is a more recent alternative.
These days, wood burning, gas, multifuel and electric stoves are all available. Environmentally friendly, they are a means of displaying green credentials, as well as heating your home and adding life and focus to a room.
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