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Poldark by candlelight

We love the way the candlelight adds a romantic glow to the cosy evenings at Nampara and the sumptuousness of the Walleggan’s soirèes. So we thought we'd take a closer look at what was the singular form of lighting during the days of Poldark...

During the 18th century, wealthy families used beeswax candles which burnt with a brighter clearer light and gave off a sweet smell. Whereas cheaper tallow candles gave off a nasty whiff – being made of animal fat that’s not so surprising.

Candles were subject to a tax and had to be bought from licensed sellers. It was also illegal to make candles at home and if discovered the culprit would be subject to a heavy fine.


Nowadays candles are a luxury rather than a necessity, but we think there’s nothing better than kicking back with a loved one and the odd glass of wine surrounded by soft glimmering light. To create your own Poldark moment, try out candles with luscious scents of the Cornish countryside made by our friends at St Eval Candle Company. They use traditional handmade methods, plus the candles smell wonderful and last for ages.

We particularly like their candles in pots and the Wild Gorse or Sea Salt scented candles will bring the fragrance of Cornish summers straight into your home, wherever you are.

st-eval-candle-company  st-eval-seasalt-candle

Historical stuff about the candles used by the miners

The poorer miners’ families used homemade tallow candles. Girls would twist threads of hemp or cotton together to make the wick and then dip it repeatedly into animal fat. These candles were known as ‘dips’. Sheep fat was considered the best but don’t attempt this at home  – even if you can get hold of sheep fat, it’s a smelly process and not advised!

These were then stuck to the miners’ hats and the walls of the mine with wet clay. You may wonder how they were able to use candles underground, but it was safe to in Cornwall’s tin and copper mines as they didn’t have the explosive gases found in coal mines.

Redruth 1

Tallow dips were used well into the 20th century before they were replaced with paraffin lamps and subsequently electric light.

(The picture above shows a sculpture in Redruth town centre of a tin miner from with a tallow candle attached to his hat, and a string of candles around his neck. Thanks to our friends at for use of the image.)

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