History of British Colonial Mantels

In many ways, the history of British Colonial mantels is akin to the history of the British Colonial Empire. As Great Brittan expanded throughout the globe, the various countries they absorbed had a hand in influencing the styling of mantels as well as all other aspects of this style of décor.

SoCal Fireplace Mantels is the area’s authority on custom crafting fireplace mantels, and they excel in the understanding of even the most minute detail needed to create an authentic look.

As with most stylings of the British Colonial era, the fireplace mantel leans more towards utilitarian than ostentatious. Materials such as marble are common, and the emphasis is on imposing stateliness. You will see white and light shades of ecru and ivory, although the British Colonial design elements also favor rich mahogany. Clean lines and columns are a mainstay for the design as well.

British colonization began in the 16th century under the reign of Henry XVIII. Initially, it was a limited and almost reluctant pursuit. At this point in history, fireplaces had evolved from fire pits but were still a practical part of homes.
In the 17th century, the British expansion centered on establishing colonial settlements on the North American continent as well as Ireland and Scotland. Most fireplaces were quite large; some historians say large enough to serve as a stable for a cow. True mantels were not a natural part of fireplaces yet.

The 18th century saw the empire expand into areas of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, as well as India, Australia, and Asia. British Colonial style started to take shape as expatriates from the British Isles sought to adjust to the new climate of these regions. Fireplace design began to take on characteristic shape and form that we are familiar with in the late 18th century.

The 19th and early 20th centuries, saw the British Empire reach its peak. Covering close to one-quarter of the world’s land mass, British turned to indigenous décor indicative of the colony. True mantels were stately and straightforward. They remained symbolic of the might of the Empire as opposed to the elaborate trimmings of the Victorian Era.

If you find yourself drawn to the mighty and majestic look of British Colonial design, SoCal Fireplace Mantels will work with you to create a mantel that would rival any in the British Empire.