The earliest method providing interior heating was an open fire contained in a fire box. Families gathered around the fire to keep warm and also to cook. In England, the fireplaces were recognizable as early as from the 12th century. Initially the fireplace was an open fire on the ground in the center of a house ,positioned against a wall. In the beginning years, it was made of stone .soon brick was the more popular media for building fireplaces. Mantel were introduced in the 16th century and were made of wood, stone, marble or metal.. For the Victorian people, fire places were the main source of getting heat during the freezing cold weather. Fireplaces were found in every room of a Victorian home. During cooler months of the year, open fires roared in virtually every house in the land. Real fires were the primary source of domestic heat. But though the cracking blaze was warm and cozy ,the fierce heat given off did not suite every one gathered around the fire-some roasted while others feet were cold. So this is when the fire screen came into its own.By placing the screen in front of the fire the heat from the fire could be controlled.
There was also a fire screen that was used for a total different purpose. This screen- also known as a fireguard, is placed in front of a fireplace to protect the occupants of the room from sparks or a log rolling out. This screen also shields them from flying embers and flames from the open fire. The early types of these screens made of forges iron and looked more like a iron fence piece. Latter then became more decorative and were made of brass, iron with screen mesh or even glass panels inserted. Along side this screen was also a fire fender. This was a surround that was usually made of some type of metal. While it might also catch a spark or ember, it's main purpose was to keep ladies long and full skirts out of the fire. Especially in the Ante- Bellum years when the big under hoops were worn. Can you not just see a lady getting close to the fire to get warm and her skirt jets in and catches ablaze? Fire fender became big and elaborate in the Edwardian years and often had padded seats so people could set and warm themselves.