I own that the ever-present backpack over my shoulder holds an LED flashlight in the righthand pocket. It’s also true that I always have a flashlight next to the bed (mostly because I believe “It” is underneath waiting to catch me unawares) on the table. However, I still find my household to be incomplete without candles. And I refuse to place candles are strictly for decoration, though they often match the room.

Because of this propensity, I pay more attention to the backgrounds of a scene in a Regency-era film when depicting a room lit by candles, and I’ve often speculated on what kinds of candles were available. In researching for this blog, I found that the two cheapest options were tallow candles made from the fat of slaughtered animals and rush lights made from dipping wicks in leftover kitchen fat. Though these common candles were not particularly pleasant smelling, they provided light.

Chutney J. I want a Pride and Prejudice living room.

Some depictions of Mr. Collins in Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) include his beekeeping, which would allow his wife to make beeswax candles most could not afford. These candles must have smelled wonderful compared to rushlights and tallow candles. Charlotte Lucas’s choice of mate might have seemed even more practical, given his beekeeping and the fact that she would have candles that did not drip as often on her carpets.

Those of means could purchase candles for their pewter, wooden, and silver candlesticks. It is, however, essential to recognize that if one was not entertaining, only the most minimal number of candles were used. Firelight was often the primary light source, and the candlesticks were set opposite the fireplace.

by Filming locations SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995)

Yes, candles were also the main source of light at balls. I posit that with the feather and ornate headdresses some ladies wore, why do we not hear of feathers catching fire as one walked too close to a sconce or low-hanging chandelier. I believe I shall write such a scene in one of my next books; it seems likely to have occurred on occasion! Now the question becomes who shall it be? Miss Bingley or Mrs. Bennet?

Sources for Candles for Late Night Reading?:

Jeffers, Regina “Lighting the House in the Regency Period” Every Woman Dreams… January 15, 2015, Lighting the House in the Regency Period | Every Woman Dreams… (reginajeffers.blog)

Vic “Lighting the darkness” Jane Austen’s World April 19, 2007, Lighting the darkness | Jane Austen’s World (janeaustensworld.com)

10 responses to “Candles for Late Night Reading?”

  1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    I have flashlights in nearly every room, one on my nightstand, and more candles than I should have. Great minds and all that . . .

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      Regina, I will never be able to express the pleasure of finding in you a kindred spirit, even in so small a way as this! This post was interesting in the nature of it! Thank you for taking the time to peruse it!

  2. Ginna Avatar

    “I believe I shall write such a scene in one of my next books; it seems likely to have occurred on occasion! Now the question becomes who shall it be? Miss Bingley or Mrs. Bennet?”
    DEFINITELY Miss Bingley!

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      I will take your vote! I think it would be a most fun scene to write!

  3. Sue Wells Avatar
    Sue Wells

    Candles, yes i love them for ambient light but I too am glad it is not for full time use. My mind does go back to the times of power outages and no generators. We made many memories in the almost dark room with the only lights a flicker here and there and yes I can almost see Mrs. Bingley running across the room with feathers smoking.

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      Oh, Mom! We made so many wonderful memories in an evening’s power-outage! Crafts, stories, and crazy meals that required no electricity or we could use the wood stove as we heated things…carefully! Love you and thank you for reading the post and commenting. XOXO

  4. Riana Everly Avatar

    I love candlelight, and we have a few in the living room, mostly for decoration. But in winter, when it’s nasty and cold outside, we’ll light a few and enjoy the light and the warmth they put out.
    But that’s another problem with all those candles. Can you imagine, in a room crammed with far more than four-and-twenty families, how HOT it must have been? Especially after dancing. Yikes!

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      It is true that nearly every author ensures that doors are open despite the lateness of the evening or the time of year, and you are correct, it must have been misery, particularly if a crush in London! But you are right, a few candles on a winter’s night is a lovely sight. We often keep the tree up for a few weeks past into January as it, too, casts a lovely light on a cozy evening in. Thank you for reading and commenting on the post!

  5. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    I have flashlights around but we have some candles too. They do create soft light and the scents are soothing too.

    1. kimbelle1 Avatar

      They are a lovely addition to a room, are they not? It would be an interesting query to learn what each of us prefer, but I don’t think the top three would be sufficient, perhaps the top eight scents for candles? But I do not discount the necessity of flashlights when there is a sudden outage, quite useful! Thank you for taking the time to read the post today and comment~

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