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away the smoke, was abandoned in favour of
the old barbarous and inconvenient custom.

No remains of chimneys, that I am aware of,
have been discovered in the Roman buildings
either at Pompeii, Herculaneum, or elsewhere;
but Lysons, in his account of the magnificent
Roman villa discovered at Bignor, in Sussex,
in the years 1811-1815, speaks of a fireplace
twenty-one inches and a half wide in the
front, seventeen inches at the back, and
eight inches deep: with a hearth formed of
eight bricks, each about seven inches square.
The fireplace was formed of two brick tiles on
each side, which had been cramped together
with iron, and were placed sloping on the
sides of the stove, as adopted many centuries
later by Count Rumford. No part of any
funnel or chimney by which the smoke might
have been conveyed away, remained. I am
not aware, Lysons says, of any kind of open
fireplace of this sort having been discovered
elsewhere in the remains of a Roman building,
though it is certain, from various
passages in the Roman writers, that other means
were employed by the ancients for warming
their apartments, besides hypocausts. The
Caminus is mentioned by Horace, Cicero,
Vitruvius, and others; but commentators on
these authors are by no means agreed as to
its form or situation, and it has been much
questioned by some of them, on the authority of
several passages in ancient writers, and from
none having been discovered in the remains
of Roman buildings, whether there was any
chimney or other means of conveying away the
smoke: though it is hardly to be conceived that
a room could have been habitable under such
circumstances, more especially when it was
necessary to close the doors and windows. In the
records of the extensive repairs carried on in
Westminster Hall by Sir Robert Smirke, no
mention is made of any flue or chimney-shaft
having been discovered. It is probable there
never may have been any other means of warming
this vast apartmentthe largest but two,
in Europe, in one spanbut from one
prodigious fire under the present louvre; and that
the custom of making the open fire in the
centre of the great hall, continued in practice
after chimneys had been introduced into the
smaller and more private apartments.

I will therefore assume, that the earliest
chimney-piecesif fireplaces without chimneys
be not a misnomerwere those in which the
fires were made on a raised dais of stone.
(Chaucer writes it deis, rhyming with burgeis.)
The dais was generally of an octagonal or round
form, and placed in the centre of the great
hall. Upon this platform the fire was made,
and the smoke went curling up to the oaken
roof, making its exit through a large opening.
These openings in after times, when the fire
was removed to the side walls of the room
for the convenience of the chimney, were
surmounted by an ornamental-glazed lantern.
Most of our readers are no doubt acquainted
with Westminster Hall, originally built by
William Rufus, but pulled down by Richard the
Second, and rebuilt by him as we now see it.
A good example of this lantern may be seen
there, as well as in other ancient halls in
various parts of England. When our improved
chimneys of the present day are not proof against
an open door or window, or against sudden
gusts of wind beating down, we may conclude
that a very smoky and clouded atmosphere
must have pervaded the apartments of our
ancestors, liable as they were, not only to the
draughts below, but to the storms of hail, snow,
or rain from above, which often carne down
spluttering on the enormous fire underneath. It
can readily be imagined how the richly
embroidered velvets and brocaded silks of the
gallants and ladies who thronged to the festivities,
of which the great hall was always the
centre, must have suffered from an atmosphere
tainted with the smoke, that all the winter
season hung hovering about the apartment. It
is true, it was a purer smoke than we have
now-a-days, or it would have been unbearable;
for it was of wood. Had it been of coal, the
atmosphere would have been noxious and

To remedy, to some extent, this inconvenience,
a movable reredos, or screen, was so
placed as to prevent the air from driving the
smoke over the lower part of the hall, which
generally came from that side of the apartment
where the latticed and unglazed windows
admitted the external air. Glass was at this early
period a luxury, seldom used except in churches,
and even then sparingly. People were much
more advanced in the art of making jewellery,
rich embroidery, and silks of damask, than in
those useful arts and manufactures which
contributed to the comfort and convenience of

The frequency of conflagrations at this period
rendered some legislation necessary. The
Curfew, or, in Norman French, Couvre feu, or, in
English, Cover fire, has been said to have been
introduced into England by the Norman
conqueror, William the First: not as an oppressive
measure to be imposed on his English
subjectshe was much too politic a monarch
for thatbut as a custom previously adopted
in Normandy and other countries of Europe, as
a most necessary precaution against accidents
by fire, and one equally in use at the court of
the sovereign as it was among the nobles, and
so downward to the lower orders. It was
continued through successive reigns until that of
Henry the First, who repealed the law so far
as it concerned the court. It must be borne
in mind that the early habits in fashion at this
period rendered the custom not so inconvenient
as we of modern days might suppose. People
who rose with the sun and went to bed with
it, and who took their dinner, perhaps, at ten,
felt no great hardship in putting an
extinguisher on their lights at eight or nine o'clock
in the winter season. In the summer time,
they probably required no artificial light, at
all. The Curfew bell has continued to toll at