James the Apostle
Parish Church of Wigmore
report implies that there were more than
the two fire pits built when the Hypocaust
system was originally installed, than
remain today, assuming this occurred
at the time of the Victorian restoration
in 1864. The absence of scorching on the
face of the brickwork inside the fire pits
is an indication that high
temperatures being not being achieved
inside the fire pit when the furnaces were
in use. This deficiency could be
attributed to three main causes.
1) The small size of the fire pit prevented the furnace containing sufficient quantity of fuel to build the combustion temperatures high enough to produce the amount of flue gases necessary to pass through the underfloor ducts en-route to the chimney.
2) Where sections of the underfloor ducts had been opened to provide internal inspection, the amount of black soot deposited on the floor of the duct was indicative of incomplete combustion occurring in the fire pit furnace. Observe the amount of detritus on the floor of the duct surveyed by camera.
3) Although a pilot stove was lit at the base of the chimney to increase the stack effect and induce the flue gases to be drawn along the underfloor ducts, the small internal size and length of the horizontal ducts would have created too much flow resistance for the furnace flue gases.
An Architectural report commissioned in 2011 recommends the remaining section of the brickwork chimney in the Tower be removed. This has now been done, so now there is no evidence remaining to show how the various underfloor ducts were grouped and connected at the base of the chimney.
Cast iron floorplate with inscription and removable centre section
Floorplate removed looking into brickwork fire pit
Looking down into the brickwork fire pit
Section of the underfloor flue duct enclosed in brickwork
View across South Aisle showing marker tapes over floor ducts
Floor duct viewed from South
Twin floor ducts viewed from West
Twin floor ducts viewed from North
This photo taken inside
the Church looking from
the Nave towards the
Chancel shows on the
right hand side the top
part of a Gurney warm
air stove similar to the
stoves still in use in
The photo guessed to
be dated around 1880
indicates that the
system had a very
We can assume from
the installation of
the stove sited inside
the Nave that the
performance of the
underfloor heating was
inadequate or needed
to be supplemented.
To see more details
about the Gurney
stoves in Hereford