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Dolls House lighting through the periods and years

Dolls House lighting through the periods and years


Dolls House lighting through the periods

Lighting Information year by year For Doll’s House Lighting or any other Project




Over the centuries lighting has evolved from the earliest crude animal oil and tallow candles through beeswax candles and different oils to gas, paraffin and finally modem electricity. But how do you know what to place in your house? If you are going to be true to the chosen period and style of your house the information below gives an indication of the evolution of lighting. This also clearly shows the considerable 'overlap' of lighting methods through the ages. 

927–1066 Anglo - Saxon period       

1000 Mediaeval          

              Mostly firelight, but also naked torches, rushes lights, Tallow or beeswax candles and chamber sticks in wealthy or monastic homes usually tallow candles in personable rooms

1066–1154   Norman    periods             

1485–1603     Tudor    periods

                  Beeswax or tallow candles for the nobility, wealthy merchants and the clergy. Cartwheel chandeliers in the great hall and kitchen. Rush or oil torches for lighting public rooms and corridors.

Firelight or crude oil lamps - open bowl or floating wick /fish-oil lamps or rush lights for the poorer households.

1558–1603          Elizabeth and period       

1603–1714         Stuart periods      

              Rush lights and crude oil lights for the poorer classes, otherwise as Tudor. Increasing use of candles in. Merchant-homes and above.

1714–1830         Georgian   periods            

          EARLY GEORGIAN          Beeswax candles / Brass Candelabras / Brass Wall Candles / multiple Candle Lanterns in Brass & Glass. Cartwheel candelabra in kitchens. Chamber sticks with tallow candles in private and bedrooms

1807 Frederick Albert Winsor was first to demonstrated gas lighting in London and was responsible for the first for the first street lights in Pall Mail.

1813 The first gas supply by the gas light & Coke Company was to 7 consumers in the Westminster area of London the contract with the company based on the number of lights to be used on their premises the contact specified that gas was to be used only between dusk & 10 – 11pmand not on Sundays

1815 15 miles of gas mains in London by 1815 there was 26 miles

1816 – 1858 the gas pipe had a number of changes in the way burners was use at the end of the pipe

The quarter of the 19th century was a time of great social change. Lighting both in the house & street had become essential & the price of gas was still high and the burners that was being use increased light from 10 – 30 candle power flame at this point was still pointing up

1820 Waddesdon Manor Gas lighting was confined to entrance hall, corridors & domestic offices

19 Century Gas was still a very expensive commodity out the reach of the vast majority of people. Competition however was intense by 1830 prices had been reduced in London from 16 shillings beginning of the century to 4 shillings by the end of the century average price of gas had fallen to 2s 6d, lighting was still a large item in the average budget the annual cost of providing a glimmer of light in 1 – 2 rooms in a house was roughly equal to 1 week average wage

(As they were only lighting a few rooms this most likely was the main rooms on the ground floor any rooms on the first floors or above  and the basement would still be lit by  

  can dle light)

1830 Gas stoves began to appear and these created problems for the gas companies as these need gas supply during the day

       Late Georgian Increased use of wall and table oil lamps in public rooms. Candlesticks in bedroom

1837–1901     Victorian   periods     

The most decorative & expensive fittings were gasoliers.There use was mainly confined to the best rooms where they could be displayed with wall – brackets of matching design & suitably ornate shades. Gas table lamps also appeared in the best rooms & studies where it was possible to be attached by flexible tubing from the wall brackets across the room to the middle

Don’t forget gas lighting made the wall & ceiling black and the rooms had to be decorated nearly every year 

          Early Victorian Candlesticks and chandeliers as for Georgian and Regency.

Oil lamps with glass shades/chamber sticks and oil lamps in upper rooms.

Introduction of domestic gas lighting from 1850 - flame usually upwards. Shade [if present] with hole at top.

        Late Victorian Gas wall and ceiling gasolines [flame downwards with lime mantles] and oil table lights Candles and oil in bedrooms. Electric light at turn of Century, mostly in wealthier town houses.

1850 Meters were used for costing the gas supplied to consumers their reliability was in doubt, gas was often charged not by volume but by the number burners in use in a given time.

Some people at this time just had an open pipe with a flame at the end

1865 Paraffin lamps was almost the perfect illuminate and started to give gas competition

1881 The first burners which included a mantle started to be seen

1887 The first factory was opened to produce gas mantles not very good

1897 Gas mantles this meant the light (flame) could be going down wards, each mantle to provide light of 6 – 8 candles

1901–1910      Edwardian periods     

1919 Gas lighting in aristocratic homes was fairly uncommon

        Gertrude Pole lead housemaid at Sudbury Hall from 1919 – 1962 recalled her early days in service it was all candle light and oil lamps except for some gas brackets in the corridors ,one reason for the reluctance to have gas lighting in formal rooms was snobbery 

1920'S Electricity in most town and city houses with some gas wall lights

1940's Fluorescent light introduced in USA. In Europe from late 1940's

1960's Novelty lamps: "Lava Lamps, "down lighters"

1970'S Low-voltage Halogen lights, "uplighters"

Alternatively you can use modern electric lighting and furnishings whatever the age of the building as we do in real life!

We hope this 'potted' history has helped you to decide on the type of lighting you want in your house. Whatever you decide, we have wide range lighting for 1/12 and 1/24 scales we look forward to helping you make your dream house come alive

Some of this information was taken from

Shire 65 Album - Gas Lighting – David Gledhill – 621.32409

The social History of lighting – O’Dea William Thomas 300 300

The National Trust Artificial sunshine by Maureen Dillon Ipswich library Victorian   Edwardian   Modern