Trimming the wick

Those of us brought up in the world of instant electricity would have found it hard to cope when lighting was provided by the flame of oil lamp or candle.

The candle, being portable was used to light the way to bed. But early candles had wicks which did not burn. As the candle wax burned down a long length of wick was left, gently smoking away to fill a room with fumes.

It’s time for the wick trimmer.

19th century candle wick trimmer at Market Lavington Museum

These devices – rather like scissors with a box, trimmed the wick and caught the still hot end of wick in the box. It was vital that a glowing ember didn’t join other debris, possibly under the floorboards. A fire could have started.

Our cast iron wick trimmer is believed to date from the early nineteenth century.

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