KNOLE HOUSE IN KENT is filled with marvellous things for the visitor to enjoy. The orangery contains an item that at first sight did not seem to be of great interest. It is a tall, bulky black iron heating stove. Undoubtedly impressive in both size and appearance, it was its inventor that interested me.
The stove, which used to heat Knole’s Great Hall, was patented by its inventor in 1765. The example at Knole was manufactured in 1774. The man who invented this kind of stove was Abraham Buzaglo (1710-1782), born in Mogador (Morocco), son of a rabbi who served in that town. In 1762 after many years travelling, Abraham settled in England.
Buzaglo’s stoves were multi-tiered devices, suitable for heating large spaces. He may have got the idea for his design having seen similar stoves whilst travelling on mainland Europe, particularly in Germany where multi-tier heating stoves were in widespread use. Coal was burnt in the bottom tier of the stove and a vent with a pipe conducted smoke and any fumes and smoke away from the oven without allowing them to enter the room where it was being used. How Buzaglo’s invention differed from earlier multi-tier stoves, I have not yet discovered. However, his stoves were in great demand. One of his trade cards, kept in the British Museum, reads as follows:
“Buzaglo Patent Warming Machine Maker To Their Majesties, Strand, London. N.B. Lately finished, a very Large and Elegant Warming Machine, with one fire only will agreeably Warm the Largest Church Hall, &c. and render any new Edifice immediately habitable, with a variety of others.”
Following the invention of his heating system, Buzaglo invented a therapeutic method that made use of the heat emitted. Patients waited near a stove until they were sweating profusely, and then undertook muscular exercise. This therapy, it was suggested, was especially good for alleviating the symptoms of gout. Buzaglo also invented a heater to warm carriages.
The Buzaglo stove at Knole was in use until the 19th century, when it was moved to be stored in the orangery. Apart from being an attractive bit of ironmongery, this rare example of a surviving Buzaglo heater introduced me to an 18th century inventor, whom I had never heard of before.