bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers

Almost in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral and in London's historic financial district (The City or The Square Mile) lies the headquarters of a curious institution -- the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers. I went there last night to hear a talk about beekeeping in Mongolia (more about that in the next post). The building wasn't hard to find: just follow the motley band of characters -- quite unlike the pinstripe brigade around them -- looking up at the door numbers to find Number Six Gresham Street.

The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers is one of the hundred or so of London's Livery companies, all of which have received their charters from the Monarchy. The Wax Chandlers date from 1358 and it was awarded a Royal Charter by King Richard III in 1484. The gloriously detailed and colourful charter can still be seen (protected from light by a small curtain) in the main reception in the Wax Chandlers' Hall. (In the opposite corner is a skep, probably the only one in The City of London.)

The Wax Chandlers, or beeswax candle makers for churches, are a cut above the Tallow Chandlers, any animal fat candle makers for the home. The Wax Chandlers rank 20th, one above the Tallow Chandlers in the Livery League table.

Some Livery Companies still act as trade or regulatory bodies, but today the Wax Chandlers is simply a charitable institution with rather grand premises that it hires out for receptions of all sorts. It maintains close links with the BBKA and sometimes gives beekeeping grants. (The Tallow Chandlers is now also a charitable institution supporting education in oil-related fields.)

The Wax Chandlers' motto is Truth Is The Light.

Somewhat off topic: my favourite Livery company is the Worshipful Company of Carmen. Now, before you get too excited, Carmen were drivers of carts. And their motto? Scite, Cite, Certo (Skilfully, Swiftly, Surely).


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