I don’t think I have ever lived in a house or flat that didn’t have a fireplace. It may be a function of preferring period properties, and thus just naturally gravitating towards a property that has a flue or two, but I suspect it’s more fundamental than that.
To me, the fireplace is literally the heart of the home. In Latin, the word for fireplace is focal, from which we get the word focus, or central point- which just about sums up how I feel about fireplaces. That flickering flame, be it gas fired, wood fuelled, or even gel driven, is the pulse of the room, and of the house. From the earliest times, even before people surrounded themselves with four walls, a fire was an essential feature of survival.Today, for the most part, it has a more ornamental value, courtesy of central heating. But its symbolic power, as the place that draws people together, as the receptacle of that most powerful element, fire, is what really defines the importance of the fireplace.When I lived in my beloved mill house in Wales, there was a fireplace in every room, including all the bedrooms, and I kept those fires burning as if my life depended upon it. They were comforting, congenial, almost musical, and endlessly soothing.When I decided to live in London, there was no question that the house had to have fireplaces. And it does. As I write this blog, my trusty gas fire is doing a very good impersonation of a roaring coal face and I have had the one in the sitting room on all day – my little luxury.For me, a house without a fireplace is almost like a face without a mouth – unthinkable, missing an integral part of its DNA. Clinical, flueless apartments have their place I suppose, but just not in my world.Fire is life enhancing, and the fireplace is forever.