Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Chimney (Gk. kaminos; Lat. caminus, a hearth) is a generic word, denoting the tube or other contrivance by which the smoke of a fire within a building or other enclosed space has access to the outer air. The method of chimney building in ancient times is not much known. In more modern times there has been constant progress, from the simple hole in the roof by which the smoke might escape if it could from the Saxon hall, through the wide chimney of mediaeval houses, which was roomy enough to allow the construction of unsuspected hiding-places, and which has lingered on in the wide chimney of old farmhouses down to the modern flue, which, built with a knowledge of the principle that narrowing the aperture increases the draught, may be reduced by means of a register to a diameter of only a few inches. With a view, also, of giving a steady and strong upward draught, modern chimneys are carried to such a varying height above the house-roof as frees the chimney from eddies of wind caused by the irregularities of the roof, and to the top have been added various contrivances for ventilation, a still further protection from eddies of wind. This increased height has made chimney building of some importance from an architectural point of view as giving scope for ornamentation, and some of the chimney stacks of Elizabethan houses and their modern imitations are quite works of art. Of the chimney of feudal times, with its wide throat, and its horizontal opening to the outer air, called the louvre, some ancient castles, notably that of Rochester, give us examples. To show how chimneys have been subservient to the architect's and sculptor's arts by giving occasion for the construction of elaborate ornamental chimney-pieces would require a separate article. In 1842 an Act was passed to put a stop to the practice of boys climbing chimneys to clean them, but it was some time before the Act was enforced generally, at least in country places. Chimneys sometimes, through neglect or accident, take fire, but the fire may easily be put out by stopping up with a wet blanket, or other such like thing the opening of the fireplace so as to prevent air from below from obtaining access to the fire.