Keeping warm before central heating

Wander around the inside of many older buildings – including private homes – and a common feature is a fireplace. The same can be found in the Bridge Chamber.

Before central heating was installed in the Chamber in 1965, it was heated by three fireplaces – two upstairs and one downstairs – and a cast iron stove in the entry hallway.

That stove is what draws our attention today.

It’s a Goldsworthy Gurney Stove, which we believe was purchased in December 1879, at a cost of £8. 17s. 6d. from Messrs Ashton & Green.

Apparently, these stoves were quite the invention, being installed in cathedrals all over England. It’s believed they are still in use in some of these, including a large example at Ely.

The stoves have an interesting, ribbed design. This increases their surface area, improving the speed of heat transfer from the stove to the room.

The stove appears to have come in three sizes, and at 39in high and 17in diameter (almost a meter tall) we believe ours is the smallest one. It stands on three paw feet and is topped with a crown finial.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney was also quite a character, being responsible for several steam-related inventions.

To reassure our readers, the stove will be staying in place in the Bridge Chamber, even though its services are no longer required.

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