Why artificial sunshine? Today we can light our homes at the flick of a switch, turning night into day. Only when things go wrong, like a power outage, can we appreciate the experience of our ancestors, who after sunset, had to shut down their working lives. For the poor, the source of light was from the hearth, supplemented by rushlight, tallow dip and oil lamps. The rich could light their homes with candles of wax, but contemporary accounts make clear that sumptuous lighting was only used on special occasions.
Maureen Dillon traces the fascinating history of domestic lighting, explaining the technological developments, providing the social context, and detailing the changes in style and design of fittings. She draws upon the remarkable range of light fittings offered by the National Trust"s collection of historic houses, from rushlights at Moseley Old Hall to exquisite chandeliers at Saltram, from dark lanterns and lace enhancers at Townend to electric jewelry at Cragside.