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Opening made in the base of a chimney to hold an open fire. The opening is framed, usually ornamentally, by a mantel (or mantelpiece). A medieval development that replaced the open central hearth for heating and cooking, the fireplace was sometimes large enough to accommodate a sitting space called an inglenook. Early fireplaces were made of stone; later, brick came into use. In 1624 Louis Savot developed a fireplace in which air was drawn through passages under the hearth and discharged into the room through a grill, a design adapted in the 20th century.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on fireplace, visit Britannica.com.