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What is a Churchwarden Pipe?

Handheld Pipes
What is a Churchwarden Pipe?
There are many cool wooden pipes that you could choose from for smoking your herbs. There are short pipes, and there are long pipes. On the long pipe section, you’ve got the Churchwarden pipe. What is this pipe, and why is it named after a lay official in a congregation? Let’s talk more about this pipe, it’s origins, and how it can be used for smoking herbs.

Early History

A churchwarden pipe is a long, wooden pipe with a history that goes back between the late eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Depending on the pipe, one can go as long as 16 inches. It’s a big oriental influence in Europe starting from the seventeenth century. In Eastern Europe, their popularity made them an emblem of the Hussars, who brought pipes with them as part of their characteristic dress. For a time, it was known as a “Hussar pipe,” with engraved portraits depicting men who are smoking such an instrument.

During the pioneer era in North America, clay churchwarden pipes were a thing. Archeological sites often unearth clay pieces, forming a myth that the next client of a tavern can break off a piece of the stem for sanitation. Of course, no evidence supports this and there are even iron cradles used to bake these pipes in an oven. Now that’s a way to keep you from getting sick.

The source of the name

Churchwardens were keepers or night watchmen of churches. They stand guard because locking the church then was unheard of. As they go about with their watch, it’s impossible for them not to have a smoke. However, short pipes can interfere with their line of vision, so they had pipes crafted with exceptionally long stems to keep it out of their line of sight.

In Germany, churchwarden pipes are called “Lesepfeife.” Its literal translation is “reading pipe.” They say that these pipes were created for people who always smoke while reading. It may be true since a short pipe, even if you’re using a Sherlock pipe, can block your vision. Smoke will float in your line of vision and make reading difficult. Book lovers can attest to this. Torn between reading and smoking, they will either read without smoking or smoke without reading.

One theory has it that churchwardens use it to smoke a pipe while still inside church grounds. They will sit by a window and rest the pipe against a window sill so that the bowl is hanging outside. They’ll take a puff and blow the smoke through the window where the bowl is extended. So technically, the pipe is not inside consecrated grounds, and they can smoke as much as they want.

The benefits of a Churchwarden pipe

Its long stem is the main attraction of a churchwarden pipe. Because of the distance of the mouthpiece from the bowl, hits are compared to a spoon or other traditional pipes. When some churchwarden pipes are 7” long, some can go from 9” to 18” in length.

The length of the stem doesn’t affect the rips. Many are choosing churchwarden because of the convenience of not having something blocking their view. You can play your favorite PS4 game, binge watch on Netflix, and enjoy a long card game with your friends without squinting your eye because of smoke.

The length of the pipe can also help you lean back and relax. Rest your head against the back of your chair and rest your arm on the armrest. You don’t have to reach over to get your pipe in a proper position. If you’re looking for a pipe to use on a laid back session, this is the pipe for you.

Do you sport a long beard but have to limit smoking a pipe because it can burn it? That will not be a problem with a churchwarden. With its length, you’ll be able to keep the pipe away from your beard and enjoy a good, long smoke.

Want to have your own churchwarden pipe? Click here now and look at our wooden pipe selection. We’ve got churchwarden pipes made from light cherry wood and rosewood that gives your herb a complimentary earthy taste. It may take some getting used to if you started with glass pipes. However, the churchwarden will give your session a warm, welcoming vibe that you won’t get from glass.



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