Fine Carton-Pierre Fire Surround from Thame Park House in Oxfordshire, third quarter of the 18th Century. Circa 1780.
By the 1800s most new fireplaces were made up of two parts, the surround and the insert. The surround consisted of the mantlepiece and sides supports, usually in wood, marble or granite. The insert was where the fire burned, and was constructed of cast iron often backed with decorative tiles. As well as providing heat, the fireplaces of the Victorian era were thought to add a cozy ambiance to homes
Carton-Pierre, was a material used for the making of raised ornaments for Fire places, wall and ceiling decoration. It is composed of the pulp of paper mixed with whiting (ground calcium carbonate) and glue, this being forced into plaster molds backed with paper, and then removed to a drying room to harden. It is much stronger and lighter than common plaster-of-Paris ornaments, and is not so liable to chip or break if struck with anything.
Thame Park House became the property of Lord Williams of Thame at the Reformation, and passed through his daughter into the Wenman family, who built the grand eighteenth century country house we see today.