1) The flue which carries smoke from a fire up into the open air.

The various related meanings of chimney reflect the word’s semantic history. From the seventeenth century it has been used to describe the flue that carries smoke from the fire up into the open air, especially that part which projects above the roof - the chimney-pot that is. That development may have started in the seventeenth century: 1682 in the angle of the said chamber he shall erect one little chimney for the conveniency of the said roome, and shall carry the shaft ... soe high as may be convenient for the avoydyng of smoake, Scriven. However, the chimneys referred to in early documents were usually iron grates, used to hold a fire, possibly something like braziers. They were moveable objects and could therefore be bought and sold, passed from father to son, or even stolen. In 1317, for example, Henry Dernelove was said to have stolen an iron chimney from the chaplain of Batley, valued at 10 pence. In the sense of fireplace or grate the English word has been noted in literary works from roughly the same period, and it occurs frequently in inventories and wills from the later 1300s. In 1377 an inventory of chattels in Sewerby listed two kymnays and in 1423 Henry Bowet, the archbishop of York possessed j chamino de ferro pro carbon. Elizabeth Nettylton of Roundhay bequeathed an yerne chymney to Jane Nettilton, probably her niece, in 1519. Such chimneys seem to have remained in use well into Elizabeth’s reign, for Lord Wharton possessed two great Irone Chymneys in 1568, one in the hall and the other in the kitchen. They were described as heyrelomes in an inventory of his possessions and may already have been somewhat old-fashioned. Many sixteenth-century references appear to use the word in reference to a more permanent structure, around or over the iron grate. In Eshton, for example, in 1538, two fayre chimneys are listed, one of stone and one of wood and mortar. And it was also in this period that the flue itself came to be known as the chimney, almost certainly via the compound ‘chimney-pipe’. When Sir John Kaye carried out major improvements to his house at Woodsome in 1573, he buyldid … the kytchyn chymne and the upper parlar chymnye pypis of stone. Leland had already called these pipes ‘tunnells’, marvelling at how the smoke 'by this meanes … [is] wonder strangly convayed'. The terms ‘chimney-pipes’ and ‘pipe-stones’ feature in several northern building records from that period: 1598 Henrie Beaumont is to have for the cutting of pipe stonis for two chimneys, eyght pence the day, Whitley. Nevertheless, many chimneys or flues continued to be of wood or to have wooden parts, well into the early 1700s at least - even at Woodsome. In 1696, Dr Kaye noted that the wooden pipe of his chamber chimney had caught fire and been destroyed. In 1678, the diarist Ralph Thoresby had workmen pull down the chimneys in his house, in order to build them more safely, conveniently and of brick.

spellings chimneth kymnay chimley
dates 1317 1377 1423 1519 1538 1568 1573 1598 1682 1696

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