Buying A Limestone Fireplace
When you buy your wood burning stove you need to have a surround, a fireplace mantle.
There are many different types of mantles, from the expensive to inexpensive, from ornate and intricate to simple and of course you can choose wood, stone, cast Iron and other materials.
Wessex Stone Fireplaces have been supplying mantles for over 20 years.
In this interview with Pam Moore from Wessex Stone.
- Why choose limestone
- Some of the outstanding work their company has been chosen to provide
- Custom fire places
- Cleaning limestone
- Colours available
Plus you’ll learn about the ranges on offer, why English limestone is best and why buying a limestone fireplace could last for ever
To read the interview..Click on the “more” link
Sean Usher: Pam first of all, tell me a little bit about the history of the company and what you actually do outside of Fireplace Mantles?
Pam Moore: Well the company started 25 years ago. My husband, Jeremy Wells started it as a traditional masonry company. The work that they carried out or they do carry out, is restoration of churches, stately homes, we did some stone work for the Queen Mother’s Gates in Hyde Park, a new entrance gate to Black Rods Garden at the palace of Westminster and all of that sort of work.
I joined him a year or two later after him starting the business to start the fireplace side and originally we sat up one evening and designed six fireplaces, got a brochure together and I went out to fireplace showrooms asking them if they was interested in stone fireplaces and it grew from there.
Sean Usher: So you’re the salesperson?
Pam Moore: As well as everything else.
Sean Usher: Of course. So where does limestone come from, I mean your limestone where does it come from?
Pam Moore: We mainly use Bath limestone. There are a number of mines down there and that’s the difference with Bath Stone-it’s a mined stone rather than an open cast quarry.
We do use some Cotswold stone from up by Guiting Power in the Cotswolds, which is a more yellow colour. We used to use limestones from abroad but we ceased using those stones now.
Sean Usher: How does it come — is it come in blocks or is it — I’m imagining huge blocks coming is that right or not?
Pam Moore: Yes. We buy and 5 ton blocks of stone. You can buy bigger but you’ve got to have the lifting facilities for that so, you know, for that some sort of weight. But we buy in a 5 ton block, we would then scant that back down on a chainsaw to make it more manageable it would then go scanted down again on what we call a primary saw and then it would be sawn to size on a secondary saw.
Sean Usher: Right. Okay. Have you ever used any other limestone?
Pam Moore: Occasionally we use limestone from the North we use Lancaster but that’s mainly for masonry work. The fireplaces we do tend to fit to the Bath stone as its a more uniform colour because with fireplace as you’ve got to be more careful with markings in the stone because although, you know, we do stress it from natural material it has fossil and veining to a greater degree.
If it's too marked then it becomes not acceptable as a fireplace so the Bath stone tends to be more uniform.
Sean Usher: Okay. So tell me about the range that you offer.
Pam Moore: Well our brochure I can’t think off hand how many we've got 18 perhaps designs, but anyone of those can be altered to suit and I would say 90% of the fireplaces that we produce are to specific dimensions so, you know, perhaps somebody would say we like the Portchester but we need it taller or we need a bigger opening, then we would just redesign it. And of course if somebody has seen a fireplace maybe in a magazine or, in a stately home and taken a photograph, then this is something we can do a copy for them.
Sean Usher: All right. So you do offer custom designs then?
Pam Moore: Yes.
Sean Usher: Are these created purely with hammer and chisel then?
Pam Moore: Yes.
Skilled Fireplace Craftsmen
Sean Usher: Right. So you — so tell me about some of your people that work for you. They must be highly skilled?
Pam Moore: Yes. Well all of our masons are time served masons i.e. they've all done apprenticeships . Our main carver, Michael who’s been with us from day one and worked for Jeremy when Jeremy was managing director for the previous stone company is u2013 an English Heritage approved carver and he basically he would be the one that would carve the intricate details We've been asked to do fireplaces with Geese on them daffodils, The Mayflower, all sorts of things and he would be the mason that I would go to — for that type of carving, high relief carvings.
Sean Usher: Right. Okay. So tell me are there different colours available, they all look fairly white if you don't mind me saying.
Pam Moore: The bath stone is — it’s not really white, I mean, in the photograph– it’s difficult to tell a colour but it’s a neutral colour. The Cotswold stone tends to be more yellow. Occasionally we’ve been asked to work believe it or not Forest of Dean fireplaces but that’s actually sand stone and it’s quite grey. We also sometimes get asked to work Portland which is a limestone, which is extremely white and you use monumental quality stones for that so it’s a very clean, a crisp stone.
Sean: Right. Okay. So it’s very hard wearing obviously and of course it must have a very long life then in that case?
Pam Moore: Yes. I mean a stone fireplace will last for time immemorial, if you go into any of the stately homes- some of those fireplaces in there, are 100s of years old.
Sean Usher: You said that you can actually make these fireplaces to suit any particular fireplace, if I wanted something done for my fireplace something a particularly size of a particular design how long would it normally take?
Pam Moore: Once we’ve agreed the design and we've done all the drawings from the time that we receive the order depending on what time of year because obviously from late September up to Christmas it’s very busy because everybody wants their fireplace before Christmas.
So we would be working on possibly a six week time scale but in the summer it’s probably three to four weeks.
Sean Usher: Okay, Pam. Thank you very much for your time and that’s Pam Moore. She’s a Director of Wessex Stone and for further information on Wessex Stone Fireplace you can call Eco Fires and Stove Showroom on 01252 815100. Thanks for listening. I’m Sean Usher.