In 1773, the Rome-trained court architect Sir William Chambers (d.1796) adopted similar herms for a chimneypiece pattern invented for Milton Abbey, Dorset. This in turn relates to another of his patterns, whose frieze is dressed with a poetic laurelled vase festooned in flowers, as featured in his contemporary designs for Gower House, Whitehall. Chambers had introduced a chimneypiece pattern, with patterned and hermed pilasters, in his Treatise on Civil Architecture, 1758, and may also have been responsible for an Ionic columned chimneypiece with similar striated ribbon border introduced at Drayton House, Northamptonshire (H. A. Tipping, English Homes, Period IV-Vol I, 1920, p.266). The Drayton chimney matches one at Serlby, Yorkshire, which is likely to have been introduced in the mid-1760s. Its design, which includes similar hermed pilasters to those of the present example, has been attributed to the architect James Paine (d. 1789) (P. Leach, James Paine, London, 1988, p. 159, fig. 177). A chimneypiece with comparable fluted tapering jambs is at Denham Place, Buckinghamshire (O. Hill & J. Cornforth, English Country Houses: Caroline 1625-1685, London, 1966, p. 208, fig. 351) and another, with Greek-key frieze is at Buckland, Oxfordshire. The naturalistic relief of animals was a speciality of the Hyde Park sculptor Henry Cheere (d. 1781), who boasted in 1752 of a 'Sienna and Statuary' chimneypiece as being 'extremely fine' (R. Rowe, The Man at Hyde Park Corner: Sculpture by John Cheere 1709-1787, Leeds, 1974, no. 11). This tablet's quality of sculpting 'à jour' typifies the pastoral scenes of 'Shepherd and Shepherdesses seatd on bank surrounded by their flocks' that were exhibited at the Society of Arts from 1760 by the sculptor William Collins, who was still remembered in the 1820s as having been 'the most famous modeller of chimney tablets of his day'. One of Collins' related tablets is in the Victoria & Albert Museum (R. Snodin ed., Rococo, London, exh. cat., 1984, no. S. 49).
The beautiful chimneypiece celebrates pastoral poetry and is conceived in the George III French antique fashion, being labelled with a yellow Siena key-stone tablet displaying a 'picturesque' bas-relief evoking the Golden Age and 'Pastorales'. The shepherd's life is recalled by the relief of an ancient well-watered park stocked with sheep. This vignette framed by cloudy tablets, hangs by a mosaiced ribbon of trompe l'oeil dentils beneath the cornice. Its garniture probably comprised a clock and candelabra; while a colourful 'bough-pot' of flowers would generally have dressed its hearth-slab. The chimney opening is wreathed by a richly-striated and reed-bordered ribbon; while its recessed pilasters comprise hermed pedestals with hollow-sided 'altar' capitals providing appropriate plinths for vases vase-candelabra. The herms, enriched with gothic cusp-headed antique flutes, bear golden tablets that are flowered with antique libation-paterae.