Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A French Fireplace



This fireplace (Fr. une cheminée) is in the sitting room (Fr. le salon) of the house of some friends. The fireplace itself is made from the local limestone (Fr. le tuffeau). On the left is a chestnut roasting pan (Fr. une poêle à trous), on the right a pair of bellows (Fr. un soufflet) and fire irons (Fr. une garniture de foyer). In front of the fireplace is a firescreen (Fr. un pare-feu). The fire is built on a grate (Fr. une grille de foyer), behind which is a cast iron fireback (Fr. une plaque de cheminée en fonte). Hanging from a chimney hook (Fr. une crémaillère) is a cast iron lidded pot (Fr. une cocotte). Most interesting of all, at the back on the left is a niche for a brazier (Fr. un potager) for slow cooking or keeping food warm.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting to see the potager incorporated into the fireplace. This only the second seen locally (assuming it is local?) and in this case perhaps, as you suggest, best for slow cooking and keeping food warm since bending in over the potager to see what you were doing would be inconvenient in several ways. It is however ideally sited for fuelling and for the potentially dangerous fumes to be vented via the chimney.

    The other place where I have seen this arrangement, a supplementary and larger four-grid potager had been installed (almost certainly later) in a nearby window embrasure, presumably to meet the need for a more convenient and well lit working position, to meet more demanding cooking requirements. The potager installation often seems to have been built-in separately but immediately alongside the fireplace, as at the Poterne Museum at Preuilly sur Claise where it originally could be closed off behind a ventilated door.

    It looks as if the fireplace you show has hooks fitted over on the left hand side to accommodate various fireplace impedimenta. By the C19 these hooks were often alongside the fireplace and quite elaborately crafted and decorated, and in some ways much practical than our modern free-standing items.

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    1. I assumed you would recognise this fireplace. It's only a few doors away from you. I think the hooks on the left are currently holding a tool for operating a trap to open or close the chimney, but I am not sure and haven't asked the owner. The potager apparently no longer functions, btw.

      I've seen one in a window sill as you describe (at Dan and Marie-Christine's, but you didn't see it and it was before you got so interested in the subject).

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    2. We have a pair in the old kitchen in the longere....
      built in at the base of the cupboard next the fireplace...
      one long door to shut them both in once they are loaded and the pots put on top.... there is evidence of another the opposite end in the "other" house... but not as complete.
      The one in the old kitchen is complete, save the cinders door at the bottom of the wall... evidence of fittings are there... but the door has gone and the hole filled in with white plaster.

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    3. I'll have to come over and photograph them one day. I didn't realise you had them.

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  2. I imagine LaPré DelaForge might be quite local to us and it sounds as if the property is quite rich in potager terms. Perhaps at some time I might ask for an intro, Susan, with the aim of adding more potager pictures and details to my collection, if that is possible/acceptable.

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    1. Yes, they are in the next valley to us, and I am sure you have already met them at our place at some time. Visiting shouldn't be a problem. I'll arrange it once you are back.

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