A churchwarden pipe is marked by its long stem. Think Gandalf’s pipe in LOTR. Many like it because of its relation to wizardry and other fantasy characteristics. I must admit, that reason was one of the primary ones that first drew me to the churchwarden. However, many more, and I now consider myself in this category, like the churchwarden because it is a cooler smoke and cuts down on tongue bite. (And what I mean by cooler is just that – cooler in temperature. Though some may argue it’s “cooler”, too.)
The churchwarden is also connected to longer smoking sessions, particularly for either deep thinking or revelry with fellow lunters. It’s the pipe you pull out for kicking back out on the porch at sunset. It’s the pipe selected for a special time of reading or writing. It’s the pipe of choice for long-term lunting, drinking, and socializing with others.
My Churchwarden Pipe
My churchwarden is a 601 Brownblast from Savinelli. While churchwardens have a longer stem, usually nine inches or longer, many have a smaller bowl. Mine is roughly ten-and-a-quarter inches long and weighs just under two ounces. The chamber is a nice inch-and-a-half deep by three-quarter inches in diameter. It is a rather substantial churchwarden, which is one reason I was drawn to it.
My Brownblast is my third churchwarden pipe, however. My first was a 601 Rusticated from Savinelli. Basically the same pipe only in black instead of brown. I loved the black. It looked sharp. It was easily my favorite pipe at the time. So why don’t I have it anymore? Well, we’ll save that story for another day. 🙂
My second churchwarden was a Tankard churchwarden from Peterson. Not as long nor as substantial a bowl as the Savinellis, but still a nice, cool smoke. I enjoyed it until recently, when it was time for it to go, too. That is another story for another day. Blimey, I’ve got another post or two to write. 🙂
What’s with the Name?
So, how did the churchwarden pipe get its name? Good question. Hard to find a straight answer. I’ve read two different stories.
In the first story, back in the days when church buildings weren’t locked up, a watchman kept an eye on the building at night. This lonely watchman, not expected to go all night without a smoke, was furnished with a pipe specially made with a long stem so that neither the pipe nor the smoke would get in his line of sight. This brave night guard was dubbed a churchwarden, and before long, so were the pipes.
The second story speaks of a time when men would get bored while sitting in a lengthy church service and would want to smoke. But, instead of filling the sanctuary with smoke, they would use a longer pipe that could reach out an open window of the building. How the term churchwarden was derived from that, I dunno.
However the churchwarden pipe got its name, I think it’s an amusing moniker for a great pipe. I love sitting back with this pipe and taking in my surroundings. I love how I can sit in a very relaxed manner and hold my pipe to my mouth without having to hold my arms up. It sits perfectly. So, not only is it a cool smoke, but it’s a comfortable one, too.
When I first started collecting pipes, then smoking them, I didn’t know about the churchwarden pipe. It didn’t take long, though, before I became a firm believer in them. While I still can’t blow smoke rings like Gandalf, nor do I have any of his magical abilities, I can puff away on my churchwarden pipe like he can with little to no tongue bite. And that right there is magical enough for me. So, I’d say that the churchwarden, with its sleek look, cool smoke, and comfortable feel has earned a perpetual place in my collection and rotation.
Are you in the market for a churchwarden pipe? Check out these sites: SmokingPipes.com, TobaccoPipes.com, and Pipes&Cigars.com. Have a favorite churchwarden pipe of your own? I’d love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading.