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Isolated and scattered across the fertile Medieval French country side, old farms were built according to two techniques. One mixed clay earth, mud filling between weaving timer and stone to make up its walls, the other was strictly made up of Thick limestone walls.

Lanrivain : Manoir du Gollodic, cheminée de la salle manale

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The famous “Sarrasine” fireplaces (for foreign in French perhaps referring to the Moors or the Normans) common to both types of Medieval French Farmhouses were shrouded in mysteries. This class of ancient limestone fireplaces which sport massive firebox openings, reminds historians of the Gallic fireplaces found although the region of ‘Bresse’.old sarrassine chimney design

Since the 16th century, Bresse cultivates maize which was brought in into Europe from the Newly discovered continent of America. In less than 50 years this plant transformed the French farmland serving as an ideal fuel for both man and beast alike. limestone-over-mantel-fireplace-designFarmers now had somewhere between 30 to 50% more money coming into their pouches every year thanks to corn. The Bress Farmers became the ‘Nouveaux Rich’ of their time and their newly acquired fortunes earned them famous nicknames such as bressans “yellow belly farmers”.Limestone over mantel fireplace

Saracen fireplaces of the Bressan yellow bellies!

The lasting evidence of Bressan flourishing rural past, can still be witnessed by the priceless architectural treasures still found in their surviving farmhouses. The millions of ancient hearthed fireplaces stood the test of time and have become the symbol of the Bressan farm house and formed the basis of its architectural heritage.french-limestone-fireplace

Wealthy farmers splurged real well on massive living room, kitchen and dining room fireplaces. back then a good fireplace could cost the family as much as their entire farm house but corn was plenty and the money kept on flowing.Frech Fireplace medieval kitchen hood

What better way to keep up with the ‘Pierres’ than having a bigger and meaner fireplaces than they did?Fireplace medieval kitchen hood limestone

Consisting of a central hearth, reminiscent of the original hearth, these monumental Fireplace mantles are called “diffusion heated fireplaces”, “wide heated hearths”, “large walk-through fireplaces” or “Bressane style fireplaces”.Biblical Stone Fireplace

The term “Saracen” or “Sarrasine” spreads in the 16th century, perhaps in connection with the mysterious era of the Crusaders when the French fought a prolonged war against the North African Moors, the Turks, The Arabian kingdoms of Andalusia and Egypt, and Saladin’s hoards. Intrigued by these strange architecture that was culturally mixed, the less educated French Farmer started calling their Fireplaces foreign as if they were the fireplaces of a foreign invader or a ‘Saracen’ hence the term “Saracen fireplaces”.beautiful-limestone-fireplace-design-idea

Another Hypotheses on Saracen chimneys can be likened to traditional Aragonese chimneys from the Upper Aragon region, in the Spanish Pyrenees, that were structurally quite similar to the French farmhouse fireplaces.beautiful-limestone-fireplace-design

The academic jury is still out on the true origins of the Sarrasine fireplaces and for now at least these amazing fireplaces retain their shrouded of mystery.antique-restored-limestone-fireplace-design

Here are a few notable Bressian fireplaces worth noting:

– Polygonal (The Planons in Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon …)
– Square pyramid (The Forest at St Trivier-de-Courtes, The Bresse Field in Romenay …)
– Reliquary (The Mount at Chevroux …)
– Square terminal lantern (The Sougey in Montrevel-en-Bresse …) antique-reclaimed-fireplace

In some cases, monumental fireplace featured a “archebanc” (or the bench-chest raised hearth) that once hosted the regional Lords, the elders of the family or distinguished guests.antique sarrasine fireplace design

By the eighteenth century, these chimneys were already considered of another age; from there, certainly, the name of “sarrasines” felt even more fitting to those pieces far from any Moorish connection.1280px-Cheminée_médiévale

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Let’s imagine a living room without a fireplace, well we can’t! Simply because you can’t have much living going on in any room without a real fireplace! Architects and interior designers have made fireplaces a focal cornerstone in any new home or renovation project that seeks to have an individual persona attributed to it.ancient stone fireplace mantelreclaimed french fireplace They have realized more that ever the need to incorporating all inspiring fireplaces into almost every room of the home. No one design element can tell the story of a room more than a well planned fireplace especially if that fireplace was hand carved in real limestone hundreds of years ago! majestic stone fireplace design

I like in this blog to go all out and showcase some of my favorite antique stone Fireplaces that have both inspired and awed me.
Those impressive antique and reclaimed limestone fireplaces are found everywhere in the home and are shown bellow in no particular order.heavy carved limestone fireplacefrench-country-fireplace-limestone-over-mantel

Living rooms are the natural habitats of grand and impressive fireplace. By impressive I don’t necessarily mean fully carved carved out looking like it came from the workshop of a 15th century Italian Renaissance carver. I personally love this use reclaimed 16th century fireplace as the focal point for this laid back French farmhouse inspired living room like the ones you seen on travel blogs or the pages of top interior design magazines…french farmhouse antique fireplace

For centuries an open roaring hearth was the heart of every kitchen. Modern appliances gradually replaced cooking fires and kitchen fireplaces fell out of favor- but the look is back!fireplace-mantel

Prior to the 19th century, fireplace mantles were frequently positioned at the height of a man’s shoulder. A large hearth allowed for a very large fire, vital as the sole source of a home’s heat. This designer took that large hearth and divided it into 2 parts, setting the hearth at eye level with kitchen diners.farmhouse-french-limestone-antique-fireplace

We love to find pieces that tell the tale of their role in the daily lives of people past. This fireplace set into a French country dining room bears the marks of centuries of fires burning within its hearth. By leaving the fire marks intact, the designer created a more relaxed dining roomdining-room-fireplace-limestonedining room fireplace design

Imagine relaxing in the tub with a fire crackling just a few feet away. Powder room fireplaces add a luxurious element to bathrooms. Prior to modern plumbing, water was boiled over the kitchen fire and carried to a portable bathtub, often positioned near the fireplace within a noble’s private chambers. This delicate fireplace is the ultimate in luxury.countryside-french-limestone-antique-fireplace-carvedantique-stone-fireplace-mantel

Small spaces, such as powder rooms, call for Fireplaces of diminutive scale. This 18th c. Cheminée from a Village House outside of Lyon, France has a width of just 45”, less than half the size of many we see. It’s graceful lines would translate beautifully to a French country spa retreat in your home.
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Inspired to add a fireplace to an unexpected room in your home? Contact us to learn how you can acquire a centuries old limestone firepaces from our collection, or click here to browse even more amazing pieces.antique limestone fireplace

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Traditional, modern, antique reclaimed or rustic, these fireplaces prove that the hearth remains the heart of the home across border and throughout the centuries.

Ancient Italian Villa Limestone FireplaceA mantel restored from antique French limestone, and fireplace tools from the Hearth Stone in a Beverly Hills Living Room decorated by Philip Hook and Sam Bradbury.

kitch5-3An old Provence style fireplace mantle reminisces of a bygone Napoleonic era of the South of France.

photo 2A New Jersey Client who has enlisted us in helping him orient, position, and install the most suitable 18th Century antique fireplace possible. Furniture was custom in North Carolina by an American Bespoke furniture maker.

photo 3louis-xiv_db2b4182156dA splendid 19th century Directories style limestone fireplace sits in this ‘Negligée’ Dutch-Gustavian Farmhouse ready to be lit up with a relaxing flame inside of its custom firebox hearth. Owners enjoy slouching back in their prized original Chesterfield leather seat.

5029014819_bf25c0fb23_oWith a majestic architectural elements such as this one in your formal living room there would be little need for any other competing focal point or rivaling conversational elements.

025-pokliop- golden ratioIn a quantic world of hyper connectivity we seem to be most disconnected with past history, culture knowledge and tradition that has proceeded us. In our eternal pursuit of enlightenment we’ve neglected cosmic and ancestral wisdom that came before us. “If it’s old it must be obsolete”. If it’s alien to our understanding it must be unreverent to our quotidian bread. Oh how wrong we’ve been, how far from the light we’ve erred. We at Ancient Surfaces have fully embraced the loving ways of what preceded us, we built atop that wisdom with passion, love and foresight in order to provide you, our customers, with past and forgotten marvels that will impact you and your interior design like nothing else would.

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The designer selected this antique Tudor style Limestone Fireplace Mantle by Ancient Surfaces has been surrounded with a tone complementing paneled walnut-clad walls of a Castle restoration in Hound Hall in the UK.

Louis Bruno-2This Reclaimed Stone Surround we selected by Designer Louis Bruno for his personal home in 2008. This lichen filled ancient stone fireplace sits in a minimalistic style home that reminds us of the architecture of Alberto Campo Baeza.

image_thumb49With inspiration drawn from the owner’s love of France and French Architecture, this home design features reminiscent of centuries past, the builder architect and designer  were all mindful of the unique needs of the residents.  Modern amenities juxtaposed with ancient reclaimed and vintage elements are common although this property.

livingroom 3 close upGuests of this home enjoy the serene location on the water where they feel in-tune with nature from the sweeping views from the home’s many large windows and patios. Built in a style reminiscent of early twentieth century Provence, this home is a picturesque escape for anyone looking to get away from the hectic city life.

Guests are greeted at the entryway by a beautifully crafted Ancient Limestone entryway that transports them out of Shady Canyon in Sothern California to the glorious days of Provence.

HAVENS-LAZY-LANE-2010-TERRY-VINE-PHOTOS-014The designers continued this look through the incorporation of classic Brocante chandeliers and other design elements reminiscent of the 1800’s period. The views from every room look out onto the lake or the forests surrounding the home, making it a very private and natural experience.  Other features of this home include a large kitchen with a gas stove and pantry. As well as a bedroom with a walk-in closet, master bath with separate shower and tub, in addition to classic furnishings that complete the look.

IMG_3408-bWith its classic French style and modern amenities, this home is a fantastic example of constructing in tune with nature. Built directly on a hill top overseeing a golf course, it seamlessly blends its style with the natural surroundings of the area. Once inside, guests are never out of sight of the beauty that surrounds them. Combining classic French style with a Provence flair, the designers have created an atmosphere in this home to make this a dream house for anyone who visits it.

Reclaimed Mantle-Castellano-Di-Bravatabrick-outdoor-fireplaces-Ponzio-Colorado-c2Another hard to believe reincarnations of this monumental and especially rare 12th century antique Fireplace Mantle that has a disputed provenance. Like many salvaged elements that have been acquired from other dealers and non-cataloged private estate auctions this 900 years old fireplace (one of the oldest that we’ve handled) had to be restored and reinforced so it can be rendered to code. It now peacefully sits in the private 50 acers estate of an anonymous Coloradoan Billionaire who cherishes family time above all else.

Reclaimed-Mantles-English-Norman-era-2Another 12 to 13th century Mantle piece that has been salvaged from this private ruined manor back in 1985 awaiting with its other sisters the loving home that will house her once more.

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154901_CHROME_1Most probably the most famous home in America after the white house and Hearst Castle! The Doheny Mansion was built in the 1920’s and was home to more than 50 Hollywood blockbusters over the past 90 years. This national landmark (It’s actually a national park run by the California park rangers!) is estimated to be worth 2 Billion US Dollars.

sc00188613This Empire style fireplace in this Italianate kitchen-living room first floor space was custom tailored for this home. The chairs and 1800’s stools are Spanish, and the light fixture was made by Florentine craftsmen.

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For many years now, Ancient Surfaces has been blessed with World renowned stone fireplace commissions that will most definitely  constitute the landmarks of tomorrow. We can only make that possible through the contributions and the patronage of our connoisseurs of clientele that will settle for nothing but the very best.

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An Antique fireplace mantel is doubtless the most momentous item of furniture that you’ll invest for your house because it’s a permanent fixture that will survive and fit any of the house remodeling and endless redecoration and style changes that a home will have to endure over its lifetime.

French Fireplace:

A French Mantel is identified by its quintessential finesse regardless of carving style and design period. They are a bit lower and deeper than those of the Italians.

Provance In Texas All along the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, the extravagant style of fireplaces were generally correlated with French mantels and characterized by floral carvings,

4130724025_c12fc2f08c detailed coats of arms and focused more on ‘story telling’. This genre of Neo-classical style came to lead during the reign of Louis XVI.

fireplace-cover-07Ancient Surfaces’ wide gallery of fireplaces contains a trove of French and Italian antique limestone mantel fireplaces which is considered by many expert to be one of the world most significant in both size and importance.

cm2014-eugenie-129bdHere’s an antique limestone mantle above was salvaged from France and was raised by a hearth to perfectly fit an existing fireplace box in California.

31d19845a3b67d9d7fd50224e2a94996As for the style of mantles goes, the most sought after are 14th to 17th century gems that are Southern Italian, Tuscan or French Bastide also called French Farmhouse of Countryside fireplace which are characterized by their simplicity.

Antique Reclaimed French Fireplace with a decorative over mantleWe, at Ancient surfaces, believe that beauty comes from simplicity, we take our time in restoring each original fireplace back to its former glory.

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French Fireplace fitting in perfectly with this living room’s atmosphere

3f287c38778a2ae0b946d9633772b1edNowadays, Newly hand carved limestone stone fireplaces are custom tailored to accommodate any firebox opening and can be carved out in any design.

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Italian Fireplace:

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An original Antique limestone fireplace mantle installed in an Italian inspired villa in Southern California.

 

 

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