Posts Tagged ‘candle’

A candle snuffer

February 23, 2016

Contrary to popular belief, candle snuffers were not always for extinguishing the flame of a candle. Back in the 19th century wicks did not burn as they do now. They just got longer and longer which resulted in all sorts of problems. The candle got smoky and wax could melt faster than it burned, causing run off. This made a mess but was also waste and so was to be avoided. Candle snuffers were for removing excess wick.

This one is at Market Lavington Museum.

This 19th century candle snuffer belonged to the Hiscock family

This 19th century candle snuffer belonged to the Hiscock family

It is always good when we have the identity of the original users and in this case the snuffer belonged to the Hiscock family of Market Lavington High Street.

This is a view down onto the implement which has three little legs to act as a stand. The basic format is of a pair of scissors with an attached box. The idea was that you trimmed the wick and the piece cut off (the snuff) fell into the box, rather than onto a hearth rug, setting fire to it.

The pointed end could be used to stab fallen bits of wick, including any in the molten wax at the top of the candle.

This snuffer is thought to be late 19th century.


The Candle Lantern

November 4, 2014

These days we are 100% used to having light at the flick of a switch. Market Lavington has had mains electricity for long enough that the days before electric light are now before living memory here. More remote places in Britain were still being connected, for the first time, much more recently and there are still many remote places that do not have the supply.

And that meant other forms of lighting. For centuries, the simple light was the candle but can you imagine the night time difficulties. Let’s imagine you need to get up to use the loo. In the pitch black you need to find candle and a method of lighting it. You have to struggle downstairs and out into the garden (for you had a privy at the bottom of your patch). You probably hoped for a clear sky and a moon to help you see your way for if it was dark, wild and windy your candle would get blown out.

No wonder people used the potty under the bed – the ‘gazunda’.

But even so a candle in a glass case was still needed on occasion and that’s what we are looking at today.

Victorian candle lantern at Market Lavington Museum

Victorian candle lantern at Market Lavington Museum

We have this rather elegant lantern hanging above the range in our kitchen. Sadly, as the photo shows, one of its glasses is cracked, but that hardly mattered for it still gave illumination and the candle flame was still protected from the ravages of the weather.

This item is Victorian – nineteenth century and came from a White Street house. Similar items could have been found in most households.

The observant will notice that, as well as having the handle for carrying or hanging the lamp, the base has four feet formed in it. This lantern was equally adept at standing on a surface.

What a delightful lamp it is.


Getting off your wick

March 17, 2013

Candles! These days they are seen as a romantic light or a horrible fire hazard. In 21st century Britain they are used for effect or for emergency. Most of us, for everyday usage, prefer our electric lights which are bright and come on at the touch of a switch. And we have candles with self-burning wicks.

In earlier times, when candles were essential illumination, wicks did not burn properly. They got longer and longer and they smoked. Cutting off excess wick was just one of those things that had to be done. Households had wick trimmers to get off that spare length of wick.

We have a pair in Market Lavington Museum.

19th century wick trimmers at Market Lavington Museum

19th century wick trimmers at Market Lavington Museum

These are not so different from ordinary scissors except that one blade is enlarged and had a ledge to hold the trimmed off piece of wick. The wick was hot and smouldering. You didn’t want it falling into your rag hearth rug and setting fire to it.

These snuffers have no maker’s name but are believed to date from the early 19th century. They offered an elegantly simple solution to a problem from that era.

Trimming the wick

July 20, 2012

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.

Christmas Tree Candle Holders

December 21, 2010

Christmas trees were popularised in this country by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. The idea of a decorated tree came from Albert’s homeland, which was Germany.

The first decorations were probably fruits but in pre-electric days candles were probably an early extra.

These days the idea of having burning candles on a flammable tree sounds really dangerous, but candles on trees were normal enough, even after World War II when most of the country, including Market Lavington, had electricity.

Today we feature two Christmas tree candle holders. These are like small bulldog clips, which can attach to a branch with a little candle clip to hold the burning wax upright and away from other branches.

The first dates from the 1930s.

1930s candle holder from Clyffe Hall and now at Market Lavington Museum

The string is actually holding our museum identification label and is not part of the device.

The second holder dates from the 1940s by which time, perhaps, catching dripping wax had been thought of. This makes the device that bit more decorative, even without a candle.


1940s candle holder used on Christmas trees

Both candle holders were used on Christmas trees at Clyffe Hall in the days when it was run as a hotel. They were given to the museum as recently as 2003.