Chimney pots date back to the 13th century in many countries around the globe. While we tend to think of them as traditionally English, they were found in India, Australia and of course in America. Their function was to increase the draft up a chimney thus removing dangerous, noxious fumes and soot out of the house.
Here in the United States, such pots were part of the norm, until about the 1920's when oil burners replaced coal as a main source of heat in the home.
Today, chimney pots are mostly an architectural element while still performing the function they were originally designed to perform. While many homeowners are satisfied with the style of their house, there are just as many that look to make the structure more individual, and a chimney pot might be just the ticket.
If you live in a housing track that allows only a couple of facade variations, you might be able to add some personality with a fanciful chimney topper. Such pots are both interesting and unique, and they are functional as well. If your home is already different from others, you can customize further with a fun chimney pot. In communities with ridged CC&Rs, you will have to check with those governing bodies to determine if adding a chimney pot would be acceptable.
There are as many chimney pot styles as you can imagine, and you can truly make your house a stand-out on your block. Also a chimney pot will add age to your home, if it feels a bit too new for your esthetic. You do not have to go back to "Middle Earth" to see a variety of chimney pots; just take a drive through some older neighborhoods in the LA area. You will be treated to some truly interesting shapes and designs. Older neighborhoods in many communities will sport them; you will be surprised.
In Victorian times there were folks that made a bit of a sport of "pot spotting", assigning points to identifying a certain number of pots. As with most sports, the activity was quite competitive and an amusement on Sundays after church. Points were categorized by pot size, color, and individuality. It is believed that the funny phrase of yesteryear, "completely potty" came from this pursuit. As some folks became very competitive, often naming the pots themselves, they created some controversy, and competitions often ended in fisticuffs.
No matter what your feelings on chimney pots, finding them is an interesting pass-time as well as a great opportunity to add to your individualism. Take a stroll through your memories of homes of your childhood and books you have read to reestablish this old architectural marvel that might just make a come back in your neighborhood.