The Romans build a road running east-west across the southern part of the Hall site.
A royal decree was promulgated, setting out rules governing German merchants trading in beeswax in London.
First mention of ‘Kandelwickestrate’, which is the eastern part of the modern Cannon Street. The name (candle market street) probably indicates that chandlers’ goods (oil, tallow, candles and torches) were sold rather than made here.
Henry III gave 1000lbs of beeswax to Westminster Abbey for the making of a giant taper for Candlemas.
The needs of the Royal Household, ecclesiastical establishments and of the great families of England, were met by their own wax chandlers. The royal Wardrobe, the medieval equivalent of a Ministry of Supply, was set up in the first half of the C13. The royal Chandlery, which operated under the direction of the Serjeant-Chandler, was a division of the Wardrobe.
John de Benstede was apprenticed to John le Cirger (‘wax candle maker’, or sometimes ‘wax candle bearer’) of ‘Kandelwickstrete’, the first apprenticeship recorded in the trade.
John de Benstede and two others admitted to the Freedom of the City. At this period the practice of the craft seems to have been restricted to men who had served apprenticeships.
Tax returns list eleven City wax chandlers, who would have been independent shop keeping craftsmen.
Four wax chandlers were sworn before the Mayor to investigate the adulteration of beeswax with animal fat. The outcome was a number of tallow chandlers and ropers were brought before the Mayor and Aldermen for selling faulty goods. However, most of them were widows and they were let off the charges. Shop keeping was regarded as a particularly suitable occupation for women, and the City generally treated widows leniently.
Most of London’s wax chandlers died in the Black Death; theirs was a high risk occupation, because of their involvement in embalming and funerals.
In all some 30,000 Londoners died of the plague and 40% of the population of the country was wiped out. This cataclysm brought with it a preoccupation with death and a major shift in religious practices. Funerals became increasingly elaborate and the Trental, the marathon of thirty masses for the deceased, was now popular with those who could afford it. Many thousands of pounds were spent on the great tapers and other candles which burned continually on altars, at shrines and around corpses. There was a huge increase in demand for wax chandlery which did not abate for nearly two hundred years. Old Alice Paston ordered a huge wax image of her sick son, matching his weight, for the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham (1443).
The City issued ordinances regulating the making of wax chandlery following a scandal involving an influential Italian born spicer and apothecary, who was found to have made a ‘false torch’. Henceforth any London wax chandler who produced candles that were not of pure, new wax or falsified the weight was liable to imprisonment, fining or a spell in the pillory; persistent offenders were to ‘forswear the city, and all torches and such work’.
‘Two or four of the most lawful folks of the trade’ were to be appointed to present defaults to the Mayor. This does not seem to have happened.