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Double or multiple returns, sometimes called an inglenook - building the firebox within a recesed panel - is a way to make the fireplace look deeper without blocking the line of sight or the radiant heat output.
Or a double return can be used to make more room for a flat screen TV above the fireplace.
An inner surround, referred to as a "sacrificial inner surround", was also commonly used inside fancy antique carved stone or marble mantels to protect the fancy part.
A double return is also a way to make a smaller more efficient Rumford look right in a large room or fill out a massive chimney where otherwise the fireplace might look too small. "like a dinky etching surrounded by some matting and a gold frame to make it look more significant", says connoisseur Buckley.
Here are some examples.
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Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
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