Hidden Fireplace

The hidden fireplace is made up of two distinct parts. In 1873 the projecting west wing of the original Tudor house was pulled down and the large room you’re now standing in was built. During the demolition a fireplace was found underneath the floor, carved with the initials PM and JM at either end. These were of Peter Maplesden and Joan Maplesden, the original builders and owners of Chillington Manor. You have just walked through their brick-built mansion to arrive in this gallery.

Above: The fireplace when the room was used as the museum’s cafe

Below: The Maplesden’s initals carved at either end of the fireplace, with a costumed Joan Maplesden haunting the scene!

The Victorians decided to incorporate the Tudor fireplace into a new surround, so there are two fireplaces, dated over 300 years apart. The Victorian fireplace was also carved, with ‘APPLY THINE HEART UNTO INSTRUCTION, AND THINE EARS TO THE WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE’, a typical Victorian sentiment.

Above this text are five carved quatrefoils, each with the crest of a notable owner of Chillington House – John Maplesden, Peter Maplesden, Nicholas Barham, Arthur Barham (successors to the Maplesden’s) and Edward VI, on the throne at the time of the Maplesden build.

Five local family crests carved in quatrefoils


The fireplace is preserved in situ and will be uncovered once again in the future when a further remodelling of the room takes place.  The museum is constantly evolving, just as the complex of buildings were when they were private dwellings for wealthy local families.