Category Archives: 1400s

Wax Chandlers

So, who are the Wax Chandlers?

Think candles and you’d largely be right. The Company’s powers date back to 1484, when King Richard the 3rd  issued them with a Royal Charter granting them control over the Wax trade in the City – the wax being beeswax.

They are number twenty in the order of precedence.

What business did the Chandlers regulate?

Candlemaking was certainly a trade regulated by the Company – but only those made from beeswax, candles made from tallow were overseen by the Tallow Chandlers company.

Funerals as well were with the company’s remit and its members included the City’s embalmers.

Members producing candles not made from pure new beeswax could be imprisoned, fined, made to endure a spell in the pillory or even expelled from the Company. The latter sanction meant that they would no longer be allowed to trade in the City.

The importance of purity is echoed in the Company’s coat of arms which features unicorns.

Beeswax was a valuable commodity and was even used as a barter currency.

Aside from candles they also made wax images, wax moulds and seals for documents as well as candles, tapers and torches.

Today the Company is no longer a regulatory body but does support the beekeeping and beeswax industries.

It’s also involved with initiatives with what is called CleanTech – the promotion of sustainable and non-polluting technologies.

They support education charities helping children from poor families, those with language or communication challenges and those with special needs.

Blood Libel

The City’s first Jews arrived in 1066 and England’s Jewish community was to endure what was called Blood Libel.

This was an accusation made against Jews concerning matzahs which is the unleavened bread used in the Passover ceremony which takes place every March or April.

This was an allegation that Christian children were sacrificed and their blood used as an ingredient in the matzahs.

This showed ignorance to begin with as Jewish diet forbids the consumption of blood.

Going a long way from the City the most infamous case took place in a town called Trent in Italy in 1475 when a two year old boy named Simon disappeared. It was rumoured that he’d been taken for a ritual sacrifice. The whole local Jewish community was massacred as a result.

The infant Simon was made into a saint and this led to the cult of Simon of Trent which had followers all across Europe and ascribed hundreds of miracles to him.

It took until 1965 for Simon to be unsainted.

First recorded UK case was in 1144 when an English boy, William of Norwich, was found brutally murdered with strange wounds to his head, arms, and torso. His uncle, a priest, blamed local Jews, and a rumour spread that Jews crucified a Christian child every year at Passover.

More persecution resulted.

The Jews were expelled by Edward 1 in 1290 and remained exiled for almost 400 years until the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, invited them back in the mid 1600s.