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Belchamp Walter, Essex

The Tortoise Stove by Charles Portway

There is limited historical information on the current Charles Portway website, the manufacturer of this iconic stove, relating to where you can find surviving examples of it.

The stoves, as featured in the sales brochure shown below, were manufactured in Halstead, Essex in the late 1800's. The stoves were very popular in village churches throught the UK. The stoves were renowned for their slow burning, hence the name, and efficient heat output. The design was inspired by the enclosed stoves that were in use in the United States in the 1700's

The "Tortoise" stove is probably the first thing to grab your attention on entering St. Mary the Virgin, Belchamp Walter.

The Tortoise Stove - St Mary's Church

The stove is still in working order and is lit for Christmas and special events.

Various repairs have been made to the stove over the years and there is non-original handle on the top opening. There are also some holes in the top but this does not stop the very effective "draw" of air that exhausts through a vertical stack that exits the Nave roof.

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