This "fleet" business

minnow at minnow at
Fri May 2 06:52:36 EDT 2003

Anna wrote:

>I seem to remember
>reading somewhere that fires were usually smaller then, smouldering things
>for warmth not illumination, rather than the blazes we decadent moderns
>have which might explain why both fire & candlelight are mentioned.

If you live in a wooden house, fire is a dangerous thing to have around.
You need it, for heat and cooking, but it's very likely to escape its
bounds and burn the whole place down if you don't keep it well-smored.

>        Help! Have we a mediaevalist in the house?

Working on it, and Robyn is one.  But the wooden-house-and-fires thing is
pretty obvious common-sense in any period; and even decadent moderns who've
had a chimney-fire are a bit chary of great blazing fires unless they know
the chimney has been recently swept and no idiot jackdaws have been nesting
in the chimney-pot!  This is said with Deep Feeling: the house my Mama
lived in was stone even though it was built in about 1300, and it was stone
because it was originally the village bakery and needed to have a fire most
of the time, but the jackdaws filling the chimney with small sticks still
led to the chimney on fire when autumn came and the fire was lit on the
hearth again after the summer, and all I can say about thatch in these
circs is it may be as picturesque as you please but I'm very glad the roof
had been slated before the new regulations about not changing anything that
might appeal to tourists started to be enforced.  If there had been thatch
involved the whole place would have gone up.

Nasty experience.  Definitely something to avoid, house-fires.


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