Mistress Agnes Strikes a Light

LanthornShe wants none to know but it doth almost be Mistress Agnes’ birthday – what it is to be four hundred and …… In celebration of that fact, the carrier hath brought her some gifts; a shiny new lanthorn amongst them. Now, Mistress A. is usually up with the lark and to her bed by dusk but sometimes she do need her lanthorn for wending her way through muddy Devon lanes after dark, or to lighten her cottage so she can do her household tasks.

She is not far from the sea, so could get fish oil for an oil lamp but she do find that somewhat noxious. Sir Francis of course, being a wealthy man, hath best olive oil in his lamps but that is not for the likes of Mistress A.. For her it be candles; she makes them from beeswax for special occasions but for everyday, the tallow candle. She do find mutton fat works best, with linen for the wick. Then she can light her candle from the fire or by using her tinder (fresh out of boy scouts’ legs to rub together in the seventeenth century) to strike a light. Nice bit of horsehair or linen, a flint and a steel be all she needs. Master Christopher has been known to employ the bow-drill to make a fire but all that bowing be vastly energetic and beyond Mistress A..

Should you be lighting a candle yourselves good folk, do take care not to light it from both ends. It may give you twice the light but it do be vastly extravagant.


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