Question: My younger sister is much intrigued with why a mantlepiece is so called and it would be very handy if you were to explain this to me. Please mail me back. Answer: Fireplaces were originally out on the floor in middle of the room. When they were moved to a position in a wall (and chimneys added), there was a gap between the fireplace and the wall to be covered. Probably originally intended to conceal or cover this gap, mantels became an architectural and often elaborate decoration to frame a favorite place in the house. Hope your sister keeps you and others hopping with her curiosity.