Let there be light: Link-boys

London Details


Never seed nuffin, cause I’m werry hard o’hearing

Nowadays, we take it for granted that the streetlights are lit as soon as it gets dark, but that has not always been the case. Wealthy Romans had a slave, a ‘laternarius’ who was responsible for lighting the lamp(s) on the outside of their villas, but anyone walking from A to B had to bring an oil lamp (or a slave with an oil lamp) to light his way. This remained the situation until well into the Victorian Age, although the slaves were by then replaced by servants or people with a light hired on the spot.

At various times, efforts were made by the authorities to force householders to light a lamp on the outside of their building, but they cast at best a gloomy shadow on the house itself and anyone walking in the street was in grave danger of…

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