In France we came across these cast iron plaques. I found them very attractive and started seeing them on a patio wall or as part of a fountain or braai area.
They appeared to be sought after and expensive, so we quickly researched them.
They date back to the age when building’s walls were made from straw and mud. As fireplaces moved to against the wall from the center of a room, there was a danger of the walls catching alight. In order to protect the walls clay tiles were used, but in more sophisticated dwellings a sheet of iron protected the wall. If you had any money or status a decorated iron work, in the form of these plaques was used.
Their main function was to prevent a fire, but being cast iron, they also retained the heat, providing prolonged heating to the room.
As building materials advanced these plaques became redundant and as old building are stripped and modern decor replaces the traditional, these plaques are finding their way to antique markets.
They are beautiful. Some have a family crest but others are decorated with people, cherubs, animals or plants. We managed to find 3 rather attractive plaques and will continue to search for them.
We also found two magnificent iron patters, one round and another oval that may be suitable for a patio or barbeque (braai) area.
The plaques can also be used in a traditional hearth as a backdrop , or mounted as a back-splash on a wall above a free-standing stove.
Or simply mounted on a feature wall as a decor item.