Candle Auction

Candle Auction

Saturday following April 6
The old custom of "selling by candle" is still observed in scattered locations throughout England, among them the village of Tatworth in Somerset. Every year on the Saturday following April 6, which was Lady Day according to the old Julian calendar, six acres of valuable watercress-growing land are leased to the highest bidder. The bidders gather behind locked doors in a room illuminated only by a candle stuck to a board. A pin is inserted into the candle an inch below the flame, and the bidding begins as the candle is lit. As the candle burns, the melting wax eventually releases the pin. When the pin falls out, the bidding is closed. The person who got the last bid in before the pin dropped will be able to use the land in the year to come. The idea here is that each bidder will have sufficient time to think before making an offer higher than the one previously presented.
Similar candle auctions are held on different dates at Congresbury, also in Somerset; at Old Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire; at Grimston and Diseworth in Leicestershire; and at Aldermaston in Berkshire, where an acre of church land is let every third year.
CONTACTS:
British Tourist Authority
551 Fifth Ave., Ste. 701
New York, NY 10176
800-462-2748
www.visitbritain.us
SOURCES:
YrbookEngFest-1954, p. 46
YrFest-1972, p. 88