The Chimney Rises

Fast forward again, this time a few hundred years, to the next great advance in home heating comfort: The invention of the chimney, and along with it the fireplace. Historians aren’t quite sure when the chimney appeared. But there is evidence that the first chimneys may have come into use in the 12th century.

Whenever they appeared, the first chimneys were inefficient. They didn’t draw well, and left almost as much smoke in the room as an open fire. But they were a start. By trial and error over a couple of centuries, people gradually learned how to design and build a more effective chimney.

By the beginning of the 16th century, chimneys were becoming commonplace, at least in England. And it was around this time, too, that invention and innovation began to move at a quicker pace throughout Europe. Hard on the heels of Columbus’ discovery of America, Spain and Portugal embarked on their era of global colonization. The Protestant Reformation began changing the face of western religion. Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The pocket watch was invented and coffee came to Europe.

Through the next 200 years, central heating began to slowly return to domestic life. Around 1700 it was introduced in the Russian Summer Palace of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, and Swedish, French and English systems soon followed.

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