Candle Maker

During the 17 th century wax and tallow candles were made by chandlers who belonged to a guild of master craftsmen. They had to pay taxes to the crown to belong to the guild. Those who secretly made candles to sell would be fined or imprisoned.

Wax candles were used by the rich and the church as they were expensive. They gave off good light and were pleasantly scented. The poor folk would make tapers or ‘rush lights’ made from the common rush or Juncus effuses. Rushes would have been gathered in late spring, stripped and dipped in melted animal fat. A two foot rush is said to have burned for approximately one hour, these would have been held in a split twig or in a metal holder, the light given of would have been poor and foul smelling. Tallow candles were used by the slightly better off and made by rendering animal fat, usually mutton. The candle was made in the same way as a wax candle by dipping a wick into the melted liquid and building up the layers to the desired thickness.