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  • Place of origin:

    Falkirk (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Adam, Robert, born 1728 - died 1792 (designer)
    Carron Iron Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast iron

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case WW, shelf FS

Object Type
Cast-iron stove in the form of a classical urn resting on an altar.

This stove was formerly at Compton Place in Sussex and it probably dates from Lord George Cavendish's refurbishment of the house in the 1780s. It was made by the Carron Iron Company and is likely to have been designed by Robert Adam. The Carron Iron Company was founded in 1759 near Falkirk, Stirlingshire, by John Roebuck, Samuel Garbett and William Cadell.

The Carron Iron Company sought to manufacture practical objects for the mass market using the most up-to-date designs, in this case by employing the Adam brothers. Making stoves and grates was a major part of the Carron Company's business, especially after Robert Adam had been enlisted to provide ornamental patterns.

Design & Designing
This stove demonstrates the elegance achievable in cast iron. Its design is very similar to a Carron Company drawing in the Scottish Record Office which has been attributed to Robert Adam and is replete with Neo-classical ornament in the Roman manner.

Physical description

Made of cast iron, of classic form, an urn resting upon an altar. The urn, with two mask handles, is enriched with bands of guilloche, bead and leaf ornaments. The upper part of the altar is decorated with a leaf moulding and rams' head corners from which hang garlands. There is a hinged circular door in front.

Place of Origin

Falkirk (made)


ca. 1780 (made)


Adam, Robert, born 1728 - died 1792 (designer)
Carron Iron Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cast iron


Height: 175 cm, Width: 53.34 cm, Depth: 57 cm

Object history note

The stove is from Compton Palace, Eastbourne.

Descriptive line

Cast iron stove in the form of an urn resting upon an altar, possibly designed by Robert Adam, made by Carron Iron Co., Falkirk, ca. 1780

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

fig.53, p.68
Gloag, John and Derek Bridgwater. A history of cast iron in architecture. London : G. Allen and Unwin. 1948. 395p., ill.
fig.47, p.13
Campbell, Marian. An Introduction to Ironwork. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1985. 48 p., ill. ISBN 0112904157

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The introduction of coke for smelting iron after 1750 made possible a huge increase in the production of cast iron. It also produced more enabled very much finer and deeper castings to be made. Cast iron was used for many functional yet decorative objects, such as fire grates and stoves. [27/03/2003]
Cast iron
England; c. 1800-1820

Stoves became popular as an alternative means of heating to open fires in the late 18th century in England. This example, in the centre of the Gallery, comes from Compton Place, Eastbourne, Sussex. The decoration is in the Neo-classical style, and uses patterns and motifs taken from classical Greek and Roman decoration, such as the urn, plaited scrolls, rams' heads, garlands and bead and leaf ornament. The stove was probably designed by the architect Robert Adam (1728-92) and cast by the Carron Company of Falkirk, Scotland, a pioneering manufacturer of decorative cast iron. Similar stoves designed by Adam are at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.

Museum No. M.3-1920 [07/1994]


Cast iron



Subjects depicted

Husks (motifs); Guilloche; Beading (edging pattern); Masks (costume); Aegicranes; Urns; Festoons


Metalwork; Household objects; British Galleries; Ironwork; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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