Crystal Chandelier Cleaning and Renovation
Chandelier Cleaning and Restoration

Abbey Chandeliers - History of Chandeliers

Chandeliers, which were lit by candles, can be traced back to before the 16th century and were more decorative than functional. They would be found mainly in medieval churches, abbeys and monasteries. Chandeliers would only be found in private houses if the owners were particularly wealthy. Even then they would only be lit on special occasions. During the reformation many of these chandeliers were destroyed, along with the buildings that housed them.

The earliest known crystal chandeliers appeared towards the end of the 16th century and were dressed with rock crystals, a transparent form of quartz. The shapes of these crystals would have been irregular. By the end of the 17th century chandeliers were dressed with polished glass trimmings and the shapes were becoming more regular. Some of these shapes are still in use today.

The glassmakers of Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, had been producing hand cut lead crystal for centuries. In 1724 a glasscutter named Josef Palme received royal permission to build chandeliers in a workshop in Prachen, a small village in the north of the country. These quickly became known as Bohemian chandeliers and are now supplied to virtually all countries of the world. You can see splendid examples in Konopiste Castle in Prague or in the Casino de Monte Carlo, which is lit by eight Bohemian chandeliers each weighing over 140 kilos.

The craftsmen of the Venetian island of Murano had been making fine glassware since the early 13th century and in the early 18th century they began to make elaborate glass chandeliers. Today Murano glass chandeliers are exported all over the world. Fine examples of these can be seen at the Doge's Palace in St Mark's square, Venice and in the ballroom of the Grange Langham hotel in London.

In 1783 George and William Penrose began manufacturing crystal in the port of Waterford. Today Waterford crystal chandeliers can be found all over the world. You can see a good collection of these in the State apartments at Dublin Castle.

In 1895 Daniel Swarovski and his brother-in-law Franz Weis set up a factory in the tiny Tyrolean village of Wattens, near Innsbruck. They began by making very high quality jewellery stones. It wasn't until 1965 that they started to manufacture chandelier parts but you can now find Swarovski crystal chandeliers in most countries. There are particularly impressive examples in the Palace of Versailles or nearer home in the Grange Fitzrovia Hotel, Marylebone, London.



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