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A good example of an early cast-iron hob grate (above) cast in separate sections and bolted together, circa 1765-70. The central fire grate heated the room at large, as well as the cooking hob to each side of it.

Until recently, chimney-pieces have tended to get more attention than fire-grates when it comes to historical analysis. The Brooking reverses that emphasis to illustrate the main developments in this important feature, for so long the focus of so many sitting-rooms.

Down the years the variety seems endless. There are dog-grates, basket-grates, hob-grates, register-grates, fire-frames, mantle-registers, patent types and tiled register grates.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Heat where it matters (above) this range of fire-grates dates from around 1785 to 1895. Among the selection is a duck-nest pattern hob-grate made by Carron of Falkirk, Scotland. It was recovered from the old laundry, originally part of the Military Academy at Sandhurst, Berkshire. Circa 1800, it sports a portrait of George III, the reigning monarch, in the centre. Another is an arched register grate from the principal bedroom of Bramley Railway Station, Surrey, built 1864-5 and recovered before demolition in 1972.                                   

How heat was handled

Guest room (right) this bespoke Gothic register grate front is from a smaller bedroom at St Pancras Station Hotel, designed by George Gilbert Scott, circa 1873. By this date fine detailed designs could be produced in cast iron.

Interesting projecting register grate (right) a less common design of the late 19th century intended to throw heat into the room. The cast iron is enriched with brass embellishment. From Holbrook House, Shalford, Surrey, circa 1895.

A bold, early Victorian register grate (above) from the drawing room at 22, Stoke Road, Guildford, Surrey, demolished in 1972. It illustrates the transition between the refined designs of the Regency period and the ubiquitous arched register grate of the early Victorian era.

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