If you’ve ever been inside a home with a lit fireplace, then you’ve probably seen a fire screen. It’s the metal, glass, or mesh grate that goes in front of a lit fireplace to keep the heat manageable and the people in front of the fire safe.
A decorative fire screen would also act as a way to cover the fireplace when it was not in use, and allow for protection from any errant embers or excessive heat. Over time they evolved to not only be functional, but also decorative, and there are many different types of fire screen.
The three-panel screen is made up of three folding panels, with the panel in the center aligned with the fire while the other two point away. All three panels traditionally contain some images or decoration of some sort.
The horse screen was one large screen with two feet on the sides, making it look like a horse. It was mostly used during the 18th century and was lavishly decorated with painted wood, stained glass, and even paper mâché.
However, the coolest fire screen had to be the pole screen, which functions like a modern camera and tripod does today. The screen was placed on a tripod, and then the height of the screen could be adjusted depending on the height of the person and the intensity of the fire. If you were taller, then the screen could be raised to keep your face free from the excessive heat, and if you were shorter the screen could be lowered.
All these fire screens eventually morphed into the mesh that we know today, and most of the screens can now be attached to the fireplace, rather than just being a standalone creation. Now, no matter what, everyone can light a fire and feel just the right amount of heat.