Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers - Wax Chandlers' Hall, Gresham Street, London, UK
N 51° 30.951 W 000° 05.725
30U E 701525 N 5711191
Quick Description: The Wax Chandlers' Hall stands at the west end and on the south side of Gresham Street. The coat-of-arms is displayed above the entrance door.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/15/2012 10:52:48 AM
Waymark Code: WMEE8Y
The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers'
link) tells us about the grant of arms:
"The Company was granted Arms on 3 February
1485 by Clarenceaux King-of-Arms. The Shield, ‘Azure upon a chevron argent three
roses gules seeded or between three royal mortars gold’. The three mortars
represent a form of candlestick used at funerals and rites in remembrance of the
dead, (a major source of business to the pre-Reformation Wax Chandler). The red
(gules) rose is a flower particularly associated with the Virgin Mary, as are
the colours blue (azure), gold (or) and silver (argent).
The crest, ‘Upon a wreath of flowers a maiden in a courcoat of cloth of gold
lined/furred with ermine kneeling among divers flowers proper making in her hand
a garland of the same flowers Mantelled azure double ermine’, is probably a
reference to the ‘garden inclosed’, a symbol of purity. (Song of Solomon 4.12).
A later version of the crest describes the maiden kneeling in a rosebush, or ‘roseayre’.
The cult of Our Lady of the Rosary flourished from c1460. The maiden is most
unlikely to be the Virgin Mary herself, since she is not represented in the
In 1530, the Company was granted supporters for its Arms – unicorns argent
gorged with a garland of various flowers proper, the horn wreathed or and gules.
The unicorn is another symbol of purity. According to one legend, which is also
an allegory of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, a unicorn can only be
trapped by setting a virgin in its haunts, whereupon it will lay its head in her
lap and sleep. The Company's motto is Truth Is The Light was granted to the
Company in 1634.
The acquisition of a coat of arms by a livery company signified social status in
the same way that a coat of arms was the badge of a gentleman: a visual
affirmation of its permanence and distinguished heritage: a combination of a
traditionally noble characteristic with merchants and craftsmen. The care and
expense that Livery Companies lavished on the acquisition, preservation and
display of their important documents and insignia suggest that antiquity and
heraldry were important aspects of their sense of corporate identity, alongside
processions, halls, feasts and clothing. It is interesting to note that, as more
attributes of status were added to its heraldry, the Wax Chandlers chose to have
these painted, or written onto, the original Grant rather than acquire a new
Although it has been claimed that the heraldry was intended to carefully
distinguish a company from its peers, the general outline of the Company’s
shield is common to a number of other livery companies. The Weavers, Plaisterers
and Pewterers all have a blue background and symbols (roses, fleurs de lys)
associated with the Virgin Mary on a silver chevron."
The website (visit
link) also gives some history of this Worshipful Company:
"The Wax Chandlers Company originated in a
‘fraternity’, an association of tradesmen and craftsmen formed for mutual
support and spiritual benefit. Beeswax was very important to fraternities, whose
observances required the consumption of such quantities of tapers, torches and
candles that subscriptions and fines for misdemeanours were often payable in the
commodity. Beeswax candles, the luxury article compared with tallow (obtained by
rendering animal fats and considerably cheaper than beeswax), were used
extensively by the church, court and nobility.
The rise of the Wax Chandlers Company corresponded with the proliferation of
trade and parish fraternities in London, and the increasingly elaborate
religious ceremonials of the late C14 and C15. ‘Proper and seemly funerals’
called for enormous tapers and churches and altars were lit all day every day
and ornamented with numerous wax images.
In early days tradesmen were known as cirgers (French ecclesiastical candle –
cierge) and the label ‘Wax Chandler’ did not come into use until the 1330’s.
Sometimes they were simply described as chandlers, although this was more
usually applied to tallow chandlers. The original business of a Wax Chandler
included different forms of lighting such as torches and tapers; embalming and
the preparations for funerals; wax images and mould-making, and wax for document
seals and wax writing tablets. The Wax Chandlers were also a minor medical
Its members, like those of most other companies, never restricted their
activities to the trades directly controlled by the Wax Chandlers’ Company. They
were often involved in related activities which we associate with other livery
companies such as the Apothecaries, Grocers, Salters, Tallow Chandlers and
Barber-Surgeons. In Paris for example, the wax chandlers were one of four trades
grouped in the Epiciers-Apothecaires: Spicers, Apothecaries, Wax Chandlers and
The link between all four trades was, of course, the bee, since beeswax was
regarded as a spice in the Middle Ages, and honey was used extensively in the
preparations of the Apothecary and the Confectioner. In Newcastle the Wax
Chandlers were grouped with the Barber-Surgeons, Tallow Chandlers and Wig