Candles in St. Lawrence Church, Birgu, Malta

Candle Facts: Did you know?

Candles have evolved drastically over the centuries, from the earliest examples made from animal fat or tallow, to modern day candles made of paraffin, soy and our favourite, rapeseed and coconut!

One of the very first improvements in candle making came with the introduction of beeswax. Beeswax candles burned clean and pure, with no soot or smoky flame, and didn’t smell anywhere near as bad, but that came at a price!

Due to the sheer expense of beeswax candles, they were typically reserved for church ceremonies, though some of the wealthier families of the time could opt to burn them in their home as well. 

By the turn of the 13th century, guilds of candle makers, also known as Chandlers, evolved throughout England and France.

These guilds were defined as two groups - wax candle makers and tallow candle makers.

Tallow Chandlers were closely aligned with the butchers and skinners of the time and often seen as the lower of the two in social status, whereas Chandlers who created wax candles were often much better off than their colleagues, due to the constant demand for wax candles from the church.

Chandler and Monica with candles

Did you know?

There are chandlers and there are Chandlers?

Candles were considered a luxury for only the very wealthy in large medieval households. A chandlery was originally the office in a household responsible for all candles and wax, this office was governed by a person known as a chandler, and given their value this position was an important and trusted role.

By the 18th century, commercial chandlers traded in both candles, oils, soap and even paint.

As chandlers also provided ships' stores with their provisions and goods in bulk for long voyages, the term chandlery eventually became the moniker (see what I did there?) for a shop selling nautical items for ships and boats.

The job and title of chandler still exists as someone who works in the chandlery business or manages a nautical chandler's shop, it can also still refer to a candle maker or candle business.

So that’s what Chandler’s job was!

Could this BE any more confusing?

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