The fireplaces of Croome
The fireplace or chimney piece is a focal point in most rooms, as well as being functional and providing warmth, in some houses the fireplace developed into a work of art. Croome Court which houses approximately 30 surviving fireplaces has some more notable examples.
The fire in the Butler’s Pantry which is lit during the winter months each year would have been top of the range at its time of installation.
Made by Jones and Rowe of Worcester the chimney piece sits diagonally in the South West corner of the room. There is a water tank at the back of the chimney piece which would have been heated by the charcoal fire in the grate allowing for easy access to hot water for the various cleaning tasks that the footmen would have been required to complete in this space.
The chimney for this fireplace travels at an odd angle to connect with the outer North Easterly chimney from the seventeenth century property. The chimney then travels up four flights to the roof top of the house.
The Long Gallery
The marble chimney piece in the Long Gallery forms a highly effective focal point for Adam’s design. Carved by Joseph Wilton, the chimney piece helps to accentuate the size and grandeur of the room. It shows two life-size caryatids, Nymphs of Flora, holding a floral wreath.
The chimney piece which was designed and made by John Wildsmith in 1760 has white-marble decorative elements on a ground of orange Veronese marble. The large tablet of lapis lazuli, a bright blue metamorphic rock consisting largely of lazurite, used for decoration and in jewellery, set in the centre was provided by the sculptor Joseph Wilton, who specialised in richly ornamented chimney pieces and became in 1764 “Sculptor to His Majesty.”
The chimney piece you see in the Tapestry Room today is a replica of the original which was made when the original was sold to the Met Museum in New York along with the rest of the room in 1949.
A condition of the sale was for an exact copy of the room to be re-instated at Croome. This work was executed by Brown & Muntzer of London. The marble chimney piece became subject to a delay of nine months “owing to the difficulty in procuring marble masons and carvers”. The Lapis Lazuli tablet in the fireplace was finally replaced by a piece of green marble.
The 9th Earls bedroom
The very large and ornate mahogany chimney piece which dominates the 9th Earls Bedroom would have been far more overpowering when it was gilded with gold – if you look closely you can still see the remains of the gilding today on the higher parts of the mirror.
The chimney piece with its iconic pilasters and an over mantel with a rectangular mirror and swan-neck pediment’ are possibly by William Linnell and probably date from the time of 9th Earl of Coventry. Rumour has it that the funds for the chimney piece were created after the 9th Earl won a large sum of money gambling on the horses in Dublin, although I have never seen any evidence for this, it makes a nice story.
Nanny’s room and Lumber garret
The two rooms boast 17th century grand stone chimney pieces. The Nanny’s Room has a ‘simple’ eared surround and the lumber garret has an ‘arched head and plain pilasters’. It is thought that the chimney piece in the lumber garret could be the earliest in the house.
We like to believe that the chimney pieces were moved from somewhere else in the property during the 18th century renovations and recycled by the Earl. You can see evidence especially on the one in the nanny’s room of where it has been chopped and changed during its different lives. … ask a guide to take you up to the second floor to explore these fireplaces.