The Grand Hall Fireplace

Close up of an angel on the fireplace

The Hall was focal point of the Gibbs’ household. Soaring 43 feet to the lantern roof of English oak, it was designed by the architect John Norton to create a sense of awe and Gothic grandeur.

A to Z of building stones

Norton’s selection of stone for Tyntesfield reads like an A to Z of building stones: from the pale elegance of Bath stone and the warm honey coloured hue of Ham Hill stone, to the coloured marbles from Italy, Belgium and the Aegean. 

The massive fireplace at the centre of the house makes a substantial addition to the ‘stone encyclopedia’ at Tyntesfield. 

The fireplace is carved from Mansfield stone (a dolomitic sandstone from Nottingham) and embellished with a series of statues in pale Maltese stone.  At its base, a fender of Peterhead Granite sets off the toning greys in a colourful, contrasting pink.

Evoking the European Middle Ages

The scale and decoration of the fireplace wouldn’t look out of place in a church of the European Middle Ages.  Elaborately carved with tall Burgundian-style proportions, it has a tower-like structure encrusted with upright pinnacles.  Continuing upwards, it is topped with a roof canopy that reaches almost to the ceiling coving. 

Carvings on the fireplace
A carving on the fireplace
Carvings on the fireplace

Cardinal virtues set in stone

The fireplace sets out in stone the Gibbs family’s values.  The statues depict the four cardinal virtues: Fortitude, Temperance, Justice and Prudence, plus a fifth virtue, Truth. 

Whilst the lofty statues express William Gibbs’ pride in his firm’s reputation for fair and honest dealings, a Latin Epigram is perhaps a more heartfelt craving of an overworked merchant?

The secrets of a happy life?

Inscribed across the front, an extract from an epigram by the Roman poet Martial (40-104 AD) is a list of ingredients for a happy life.

Prudens simplicitas, Pares amici, Convictus facilis, Focus perennis.

“Wise candour, congenial friends, affable company, a fireplace that does not go out”.

Epigram 10.47