Saturday, 11 November 2017

Waxing Eloquent

I have been far too busy lately. Definitely "Burning the candle at both ends". Except that phrase does not mean what is shown in the picture. It means getting up to work before dawn, and then working late into the evening. 

Which, in the days before electric light, meant you had to burn the candle at both ends of the day.
I am sincerely hoping things will settle down a little now. I have completed all my WWDP Preparation Days, and I have also finished my 2 day a week teaching job [Long story, and I'm not saying anymore here]
But I have been thinking quite a bit about candles - Christmas is approaching, and I do like the glow of a candle or two in the festive season!
At the end of the 17th Century, Queen Anne insisted that they had fresh candles every day in the Royal household. Which meant an awful lot of stubs! One enterprising footman got permission to dispose of these for Her Maj. He promptly resold them for a tidy profit . William Fortnum set up a sideline business as a grocer. He convinced his landlord, Hugh Mason, to be his associate, and they founded the first Fortnum & Mason store in Mason's small shop in St James's Market in 1707. In 1761, William Fortnum's grandson Charles went into the service of Queen Charlotte and the Royal Court affiliation led to an increase in business. Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the Scotch Egg in 1738. The store began to stock speciality items, namely ready-to-eat luxury meals such as fresh poultry or game. And now F&M are the most upmarket grocers in the country. And it all started with candle stubs!
According to Nigel Slater, that pool of wax which forms round the wick of your candle is called a 'Bishop'. I cannot discover why this is. This article stresses the importance of the wax pool, but doesn't mention the ecclesiastical name.
Originally candles were made from tallow [smelly animal fat] then beeswax [lovely but expensive to make] then spermaceti [a by-product of whaling industry] and finally from other natural oils and then paraffin wax . Much of the developmental work was done by William Wilson in Victorian times - he set up his company under the name of Edward Price- and Price's Candles became the market leaders. It is a fascinating story [but rather long- read it here if you want]
Long before the classic Two Ronnies Sketch in 1976, and before IKEA arrived in the UK with a plethora of wax products, I remember a friend asking if I knew about about Tea Candles. Her grandmother had declared that what she wanted for her Golden Wedding was one of those Stainless Steel Sets on a tray, with a pot, and jug and sugar bowl. But it must have tea candles, she didn't want an ordinary one. Eventually we worked out what she meant... Teak 'andles!

Bob has been talking about Advent Candles recently- and debating the merits of the pink and purple versus the red ones... Which has reminded me, should we do the Pause In Advent thing again this year? anybody interested ?


  1. You are so busy, Angela, that I never knew how you fitted in the two days paid employment! Thanks for the facts about the candles-I read and enjoyed the article. You and Bib sound a great team and your churches are so lucky that you quickly became part of the new community where you live. Looking for ward to all the events and makes you will show us in the run up to Christmas. Catriona

  2. I've always enjoyed the Pause in Advent but maybe someone else could host ? You sound like you have been doing a lot lately !

  3. Really enjoyed reading the article about Price's Candles. I live close to Bromborough Pool where Price's had the factory and although its long gone there is a delightful little village remaining and great views over the Mersey. I burn candles most evening and have recently had a go at making my own. Only needed to buy the wicks as I melted down lots of old bits of candles, some scented. Must do some more before Christmas. Enjoy your candlelight!

  4. I'm groaning over Teak handles! Yes, I like the Advent posts! I'm up for it! Fascinated by the F&M story!

  5. I'm sorry to hear that your teaching job has ended. I'm sure your presence and enthusiasm made a difference to those children while you were with them.

  6. Thank you for explaining about the expression "burning the candle at both ends". I hope you will continue the Pause in Advent; I look forward to reading your posts.


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