As you leave the guards’ accoutrements behind, you’ll pass a series of early modern stove plates. They were originally assembled to form a box stove, like the one you can see on the left of this passage. Box stoves often had five sides and were heated from an adjoining room. That meant the living space remained free of irritating smoke and dust, which was considered an advantage.
The large surfaces of the stoves provided ample space for images to adorn the grand rooms. In the early modern period, biblical scenes or coats of arms were especially popular. Courtly scenes were also depicted. A particularly fine example is the oldest stove plate from the Solms region. You’ll find it across from where you are now – in the antiquities collection – between the wall-mounted shelves with the display of seal stamps. The plate was cast in the early 16th century and shows scenes of a romantic nature. You can't see it terribly well from a distance, but you’ll have a chance to look at it in more detail later.
The stove plates are products of the early iron industry in the Solms region. As early as 1495, an important sovereign privilege called the “Bergregal” was granted to Count Otto the Second. This entitled the count to the rights and royalties from mining.
As soon as people knew how to extract liquefied iron from ore, they were able to produce cast iron. To make stove plates, an image was carved in wood and pressed into moulding sand. That created a negative mould, into which the iron was then cast. The stove plates you can see here were made in Asslar, about 15 kilometres or nine miles from Braunfels. Count Conrad zu Solms-Braunfels founded the Asslar iron works in 1587. It gained significance mainly as the leading weapons manufacturer in central Hesse. The foundry didn’t just make domestic cast-iron stoves, but also cannon and cannonballs.
All depictions: © Schloss Braunfels