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The earliest signs of chimney use date to the 13th century in Italy, but it wasn’t until the 16th century in England that the trend of fireplaces and chimneys really took off and people began constructing homes with fireplaces in each room.
Originally, chimneys were built into the homes of England’s ruling class, but it wasn’t long before fireplaces and chimneys were built into the homes of the working class as well.
The young chimney sweeps were usually between the ages of five and eleven years of age; however, some were as young as four.
The inhalation of soot and fumes was believed to be the reason child chimney sweeps rarely lived past middle age. Many children died when they became wedged inside the narrow confines of the flues.
The life of a child who worked in these conditions was undesirable and dangerous.
They were often treated poorly and worked long, hard hours from dawn to dusk under harsh conditions.
In 17th century England, the government began to charge a very hefty hearth tax which was based on the number of chimneys in a home.
To avoid paying taxes on the additional chimneys, builders began to adjoin the flues of new fireplaces to existing chimneys within the home.