Lighting through the Ages

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Lighting through the Ages

Traditional Lighting London

Traditional lighting has come a long way since the prehistoric times when man first discovered fire and used it for cooking, for warmth, to ward off predators and to see in the dark. Now, lighting is used in all aspects of the home, from ceiling lights, to table lamps, floor lamps, wall lights and kitchen lighting, not forgetting the various forms of outdoor lighting for the pond, patio, flower beds, pathways and driveways.

Here, Angelo spotlights on illuminations through the ages, from ancient times, right up to the cutting edge contemporary lighting designs that are available for use in homes today. We have compiled a brief timelines of some of the most important lighting-related dates in history.

Period Lighting - click here to see our beautiful traditional ceiling lighting.

Prehistoric Times - Although it is hard to put a date on exactly when fire was discovered, there is evidence that some of the earliest domesticated use in Europe was at Terra Amata in Nice, France. The site, which was excavated in the 1960's dated back to the Paleolithic period, at around 400,000 BC. Interestingly, in the Paleolithic caves at Lascaux, in the Dordogne, also in France, archaeologists excavated a primitive 9 inch long portable sandstone lamp. During this period animal fat was added to the lamp to keep the flame burning.

Ancient Civilisations - The Ancient Greeks and Romans created lighting out of moss and animal fats, which served as an early version of a candle. They also used olive oil in lamps, which were shallow and often decorative dishes made of stone, pottery or precious metals.

In addition to lamps, they had torches created out of wooden sticks which they either carried in ceremonial processions, or hung on a wall in brackets (sconces). These sticks had material soaked in flammable liquid at one end, which was set on fire. Other early forms of lighting fuel included fish, seed or nut oil and, in some parts of the globe, they even used whale oil to create light.

Middle Ages – The Middle Ages did not see much advancement in the form of domestic lighting: open fires were still used as a main source of lighting and animal fats and plant oil were used to make candles, although the wealthier used beeswax candles. Other forms of lighting included torches and oil lamps. The earliest forms of chandeliers were also introduced in castles and churches; these light fixtures were hung on ropes or chains and consisted of cross shaped pieces of wood with candles fixed on spikes.

Georgian Times – In the mid 1790's, when King George III was on the throne, gas lamps were introduced and were first used to light up a home in Redruth, Cornwall. This was the residence of Scottish born engineer William Murdock, who had been experimenting with gas for lighting with great results. He also invented a steam tricycle, a forerunner of the car, and was well known in the area for his ‘machine'. Westminster Bridge was one of the first London landmarks to be lit by gas and by the early 19th century most city streets were lit using gas lighting.

The Victorian Era – Paraffin lamps were invented in the 1850's and were in widespread use by the 1860's. The earliest types of paraffin lamps were flat wick lamps in a brass or copper encasement with glass panels, although they were originally not portable and were meant for outdoor use only. However, things began to change in the late 19th century when, in 1879, a street in Newcastle became the first one in the UK to be lit by electric lighting and, gradually, electric street lighting spread.

The 20th century – Traditional lighting, such as gas lamps, were still in operation on the city streets and had widespread domestic use. However, electric lighting didn't come into popularity in homes until after 1919, and in the 1920's a national grid was established. By this time, all sorts of decorative lighting was available including Tiffany Lamps, which were very much part of the Art Nouveau Movement, and ornate Venetian chandeliers. These were initially lit by candles when they were first created in 1700 however, in the 20th century, electric versions could be purchased by the wealthy.

Today, a host of different lighting designs and bulbs are available, from florescent to halogen, low voltage, neon lighting, solar powered lights, fibre optic lighting, energy saving light bulbs, automatic lighting, underwater lights and an almost unlimited range of attractive outdoor and indoor feature lighting.

About Angelo's Lighting

Angelo's sell a vast range of contemporary and period lighting for UK homes and businesses. Whether you require specific lighting styles, or would like a bespoke shade, just visit our experts at our north London showroom who will be happy to help you find exactly what you need.

Antique-style Lighting – click here to find out where our north London showroom is based