The Devil’s Fireplace
This sandstone fireplace is carved with figures of The Devil, a lawyer and a parson. It is known as The Devil’s Fireplace and originally stood in The Abbey Inn, Oldham.
This fireplace was commissioned by the landlord of The Abbey Inn on West Street when it was rebuilt in 1846. The pub was fitted out with a medieval theme and originally contained several other carvings and stained glass windows. The fireplace came into Gallery Oldham’s collections in 1938 when Oldham Brewery modernised the building.
The carved figures of the Devil holding onto a lawyer and a parson are designed to illustrate the saying ‘The lawyer pleads for all, the parson prays for all, but the Devil takes all.’ In 1819 the Abbey Inn had been the site of a notorious inquest into the death at Peterloo of local man John Lees. Perhaps the carving is a comment on this injustice or it may have been intended only to amuse. Whatever its origins this rather gruesome piece has long been a favourite item of Gallery Oldham’s collections.