The Geffrye, Museum of the Home

136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA


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17th Century LightingPage 1

Domestic activities were greatly restricted after sunset, when the only sources of light were the fire in the hearth and candles or rushlights. The light from rushlights and tallow candles was poor and they gave off an unpleasant smell. Beeswax candles gave a better light and were less smelly, but they were also much more expensive and tended to be reserved for special occasions.


'A woman reading by Candle-light' by Frans van Mieris the elder, c.1665; black chalk on vellum.

© Sotheby's