This fireplace was in “His” bedroom of the master suite of rooms. The overall design of the fireplace matches the other upstairs bedroom mantelpieces, even retaining the small upper original shelf missing from the previous fireplace.
The wallpaper surrounding the fireplace is William Morris’ “Vine” wallpaper, which he designed in 1873. It is available in four colourways, including this one with a light, cream background from www.CharlesRupertDesigns.com.
The tiles differ from the romantic tiles of “her” bedroom, fitting as they are for a more masculine personality.
The names of the other tiles include: “Rat Hunt’; Deer Stalking”; Stag Hunt”; “Otter Hunt”; Hawking”; Fishing”; and “Shooting”.
This complete set of tiles is very rare, and it is highly unusual to find them in their original location 123 years after the house was built.
When restoration of Jolimont commenced in 1984, there were apparently no tiles left on the hearth of this fireplace. However, after careful searching, two partial half tiles in the cobalt blue apple blossom design were found embedded under the piers of the wood mantelpiece, and enough matching antique tiles were eventually collected from a variety of sources to replicate the original border tiles of the hearth. Antique hexagonal tiles were unavailable, so thick, 6” square, reproduction tiles were set on a 45 degree angle to finish the hearth.
The six fireplaces of Jolimont give a fascinating overview into one late Victorian family’s taste in interior design. What was suitable for different rooms, what was available from the tile supplier (“not enough right facing faces?”), and the availability of 30” cast iron fireplace inserts…were they not available? Too expensive? Or were the designs for the 24” inserts preferable for the fireplaces of the main rooms, where Mr. Bainbridge wanted to cut a social swath?
Large Victorian houses with six intact fireplaces are unusual to find today. These large homes have frequently been torn down; or remodeled, destroying original architectural elements such as fireplaces and tiles; or divided into apartments, thereby losing the entirety of design that had survived for so many years.
Houses such as Jolimont, carefully preserved and restored, still can tell a story today. You just need to pay attention, and ‘read’ what the house can tell you.