Each morning the grates had to be cleaned out, and the fire ‘laid’, usually with pieces of rolled up newspaper which had small pieces of wood known as kindling laid on top with the coal going on top of that. The wood had to be chopped small and the coal had to be fetched from the coal house outside. The fire would be lit and then more small pieces of coal added until the fire was burning brightly, when larger pieces of coal could be added.
Sometimes the paper or wood was damp, or the wind blew down the chimney, and the fire would not burn properly. This was when the bellows came in useful. Most Victorian homes kept a small ornamental but working pair of bellows on the hearth. The metal end would be placed at the bottom of the grate and the bellows opened and closed to create a current of air under the fire, which would help it to burn up more quickly. Even the kitchen had a fire. madeintheblackcountry
Generally most fireplaces of the 18th and 19th c. kept you roasting on one side and freezing on the other. A gadget from those days was the fire screen, a device meant to shield a lady’s face from the heat of the fire, while the rest of her person stayed cozily warmed. victoriandecorating