Great Britain Fireplace

Location: First floor, Surviving Change Exhibit

First floor west parlor fireplace with stone mantel and cast iron fireback.

This room, used as both a parlor and library, contains a fireplace that has a Baroque-style stone chimney piece with strap-work carvings and stylized flowers. Stone chimney pieces were rare in North America before 1730, so the chimney piece may have been installed sometime later. Some of the manganese glazed (purple hued) Delft tiles maybe from the same period. The tiles have two designs; the column or edge tiles show a mixture of figures including cavaliers and women with headdresses, while the firebox tiles have a circular floral pattern. To date, no comparative tiles have been located for the column tile patterns. Examples of similar floral patterns as seen on the firebox tiles can be found in books and websites detailing the history of Delft tiles.

Credit: Lavada Nahon – NYS OPRHP, 2021

Cast Iron Fireback

Cast iron fireback featuring the Royal Arms of Great Britain. A matching fireback can be found in the "Work and Commerce" gallery to the east.
Royal Arms of Great Britain
Image of the British Royal Coat of Arms (1714-1800)
Version of the Royal Coat of Arms of Great Britain, dating between 1714 and 1801. Wikimedia Commons.

Prior to the 1911 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society restoration, the fireplace had been bricked up twice. Once reopened, a fireback bearing the Royal coat of arms of Great Britain was discovered, likely dating between 1714 and the Revolutionary War period. All but a portion of the coat of arms is visible, including a section of the Royal motto in French: “Honisoit qui mal y pense” (“Shame on anyone who thinks evil of it”).

Excerpt from: Philipse Manor Hall at Yonkers, New York, by Edward Hagaman Hall

“In the first quarter of the oval escutcheon are the three lions passant gardant of England impaled with the lion rampant of Scotland. In the second quarter are the three fleurs-de-lis of France. In the third quarter is the harp of Ireland. The fourth the arms of the house of Hanover; namely two lions passant gardant for Brunswick, impaling a lion rampant for Lunenburg; in the base a horse courant for Saxony; and on the center of the quarter an escutcheon charged with the crown of Charlemagne. Surrounding the foregoing is the Garter, upon which is distinguish able most of the motto, “Honi soit qui mal y pense.” The crest is a royal helmet surmounted by the imperial crown, upon which is a lion statant gardant imperially crowned. The arms are supported on the dexter side by a lion rampant gardant, imperially crowned, and on the sinister side by the conventional unicorn, gorged with a coronet to which is attached a chain. In a scroll underneath the arms are legible some letters of the motto,“Dieu et mon Droit.” Within a whorl of the scroll on the dexter side is the rose of England an in a corresponding position on the sinister side is the thistle of Scotland.” (Hall, 215-216.)