Author Topic: Wax for church in C16th wills  (Read 309 times)

Offline Davedrave

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Wax for church in C16th wills
« on: Monday 17 February 20 09:08 GMT (UK) »
I have some C16th wills in which the testator leaves wax to the church where he is to be buried. One (1527) makes mention of a “torch”. Another (1545) leaves 4 pounds of wax for the “sepulchre light”. What I’m wondering is whether both instances are likely to be providing the wax to be burned specifically during the funeral proceedings.

Dave
ESSEX: Cramphorn Raven Sams Sayers Taylor Whybrow; GLOS: Beacham/Beauchamp; HERTS: Chamberlain Chuck; LEICS: Allot Bennet Bentley Crisp Godfrey Greasley Hunt Hurst Jarvis Lane Lea Light Seel Taylor Woodward Wright; LINCS: Buswell Lambert Mitchell Muse Sayers; OXON: Barnett Beacham; STAFFS: Hodgkins Jarvis; SURREY: Light; WARKS: Astley/Chesshire Bradbury Hicken/Hickin Hudson; WORCS: Ballinger Beauchamp Laight

Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #1 on: Monday 17 February 20 11:42 GMT (UK) »
The sepulchre light appears to have been associated with Easter and Holy Week.

Stan
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Offline GrahamSimons

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #2 on: Monday 17 February 20 11:44 GMT (UK) »
If I remember.... wax was very valuable and would not normally be used for candles, which would use smelly amd smoky tallow.
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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #3 on: Monday 17 February 20 11:49 GMT (UK) »
Liturgical candles were made from Beeswax, which was an expensive commodity, candles used simply for illumination were of tallow.

Stan
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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #4 on: Monday 17 February 20 12:04 GMT (UK) »
The sepulchre light appears to have been associated with Easter and Holy Week.

Stan

The Holy Sepulchre was the sepulchre in which Christ's body lay between burial and resurrection.

Stan
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Offline Davedrave

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #5 on: Monday 17 February 20 15:40 GMT (UK) »
Thank you for your answers.  I know that some mediaeval parish churches still have the remains of an Easter Sepulchre. Maybe the sepulchre light was something which was only lit during the Easter period. I’ve just found an online publication (Greenhill: Seven Leicestershire Wills) containing a 1506 will where the testator leaves 12 lb wax to be made into tapers to be burned about his body during the funeral dirge and mass. He was obviously a wealthy individual because he has an alabaster tomb. My possible relative left 4 pounds of wax for the sepulchre light.  So it seems that there are probably two different purposes for the wax in the two wills I’ve got.

Dave
ESSEX: Cramphorn Raven Sams Sayers Taylor Whybrow; GLOS: Beacham/Beauchamp; HERTS: Chamberlain Chuck; LEICS: Allot Bennet Bentley Crisp Godfrey Greasley Hunt Hurst Jarvis Lane Lea Light Seel Taylor Woodward Wright; LINCS: Buswell Lambert Mitchell Muse Sayers; OXON: Barnett Beacham; STAFFS: Hodgkins Jarvis; SURREY: Light; WARKS: Astley/Chesshire Bradbury Hicken/Hickin Hudson; WORCS: Ballinger Beauchamp Laight

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #6 on: Monday 17 February 20 15:50 GMT (UK) »
I have some C16th wills in which the testator leaves wax to the church where he is to be buried. One (1527) makes mention of a “torch”.

Suggestions for uses for the torch and the wax.
The light in the church sanctuary near the tabernacle in which the sacred host (the consecrated bread wafer for Holy Communion) is kept. It's a perpetual light while the host is present in the tabernacle.  The host is removed from the sanctuary, the sanctuary light is extinguished or removed and the tabernacle door is left ajar at the conclusion of the commemoration of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday night. The sacred host is taken in procession to a side altar known as an altar of repose, symbolising Jesus being placed in the tomb. All other lights in the church are also put out and the church remains in darkness until the vigil service on Holy Saturday. The absence of light symbolises the absence of Jesus, the Light of the World, in the days between His death and resurrection. The host is returned to the tabernacle at Easter Saturday vigil and the sanctuary light burns again.
The Easter Vigil service begins with ceremonial lighting of a Paschal fire from which the Paschal candle is lit. The Paschal candle, which is larger than normal church candles, is carried into church in procession. After acolytes have lit their candles from the Paschal candle and then lit candles held by the congregation and finally the church candles, the Paschal candle is put in a prominent position in a special holder near the altar. It remains in position throughout the Easter season (which lasts until Pentecost/Whitsuntide) and is lit at the start of each Mass. 
The wax might have been for votive candles lit while praying for his soul.
Cowban

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #7 on: Monday 17 February 20 16:15 GMT (UK) »
I’ve just found an online publication (Greenhill: Seven Leicestershire Wills) containing a 1506 will where the testator leaves 12 lb wax to be made into tapers to be burned about his body during the funeral dirge and mass.

The corpse might be in church for the night before the funeral or outside the church. Lychgates (alternative spelling lichgate) were constructed to protect corpse and mourners from bad weather. It was believed that a person's soul remained in the body a while after death and that devils would make a final effort to take the soul to Hell during the night before the funeral. Mourners would to keep vigil beside the deceased to prevent that happening. Safest place was on hallowed ground. Keeping candles lit around the body may have been part of the protection against the Prince of Darkness.
 
Cowban

Offline Davedrave

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Re: Wax for church in C16th wills
« Reply #8 on: Monday 17 February 20 17:06 GMT (UK) »
Many thanks Maiden Stone, this is very interesting.

Dave
ESSEX: Cramphorn Raven Sams Sayers Taylor Whybrow; GLOS: Beacham/Beauchamp; HERTS: Chamberlain Chuck; LEICS: Allot Bennet Bentley Crisp Godfrey Greasley Hunt Hurst Jarvis Lane Lea Light Seel Taylor Woodward Wright; LINCS: Buswell Lambert Mitchell Muse Sayers; OXON: Barnett Beacham; STAFFS: Hodgkins Jarvis; SURREY: Light; WARKS: Astley/Chesshire Bradbury Hicken/Hickin Hudson; WORCS: Ballinger Beauchamp Laight