Sunday, 25 November 2007
In a country which can get as cold in the winter as the Czech Republic, buildings are designed around the need to keep warm at that time of year. A friend, who is a specialist in traditional Czech building design and Czech stoves and chimneys in particular, was looking at a book we had brought over of Cotswolds buildings, when he asked why was it that chimneys were positioned at the outside wall of English houses, rather than in the centre (thus heating the whole house) as in Czecho. And another friend tells me that when she first came to England she was astonished to see water and sewage pipes running down the outside of walls. Having survived the 2005/6 winter I can tell you if the pipes in our house went down the outside we would have no water in the winter and we would have waterfalls down the side of the house when the spring thaw came.
We have recycled the old wood stoves, which put out a great amount of heat and have the added advantage that you can keep a mug of tea warm on top of them. Some time when we can afford to we will replace them with better ones. The best Czech stoves are covered with ceramic tiles, which keep the heat wonderfully. You will see huge ones in Cesky Krumlov Castle, but Czech farmhouses had them too - so big Granny or a sick child can lie on top of them and gain the benefit of the warmth and negative ions given off by the stove.
We have just had the chimney repaired - the photo above shows it before the repairs. This large metal door in the chimney was in the attic. The greasy stains below the door betray the use to which the chimney was put. A British friend who bought an old farm in another village found the former owners shoving a pig through such a door and up the chimney, where they proposed to smoke it. Our chimney has a smaller door - not big enough for a pig now, but big enough to give a sweep access to the flue and that is all we need.