Chimney Sweep Legends and Lucky Lore

Lucky Chimney Sweep Legends, Lore and Traditions

Why are Chimney Sweeps Lucky?

Chimney sweep legends, lore and traditions were born with the invention of the chimney and have flourished every since.  What are these legends and how did they originate?

Why Is It Good Luck to Have a Chimney Sweep at a Wedding?

Legend says a chimney sweep saved the life of William the Conqueror by pushing him out of the path of a run-away horse and wagon.

As a reward, King William invited the sweep to his daughter’s wedding.  Britishers have considered chimney sweeps to be lucky ever since.  An elaboration on this legend has King William, in appreciation for the heroic act of the chimney sweep, allowing all sweeps to wear top hats, a privilege reserved at that time for the aristocracy.

Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins

Some lucky chimney sweep legends start with William the Conqueror.

Or maybe it didn’t happen that way at all.  Another account has a chimney sweep hanging from the gutter after slipping off the roof.  A young woman saw him dangling there and pulled him into the house, saving his life.  The chimney sweep and the maiden fell in love and were married.

Either way, it’s good luck to have a chimney sweep at your wedding, so couples would hire a sweep to attend.  Even today, some chimney sweeps can be hired to bless the bride and groom with a good luck toast at a wedding. Or a cheaper alternative is to have a willing guest dressed in a chimney sweep costume.

How Can a Chimney Sweep Share His Good Luck with You?

After the chimney sweep cleans your chimney, shake his hand for good luck.  Or young children can try to snatch a bristle of his brush for good luck.

Anytime you see a chimney sweep, not just after his has cleaned your flue, lore claims you can garner good luck by shaking his hand, touching his buttons, kissing him, or even blowing him a kiss.  Just ask Mary Poppins!  As the chimney sweep Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke, sings in the movie Mary Poppins:

Good luck will rub off when I shakes ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss and that’s lucky too!

Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke as Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins.

A further elaboration on the good luck powers of chimney sweeps has it that they can even cancel out bad luck!

If you see a chimney sweep on the roof of a house, lore says the house will be blessed.  This might have come from the fact that homes with clean chimneys don’t have chimney fires.

Why Do Chimney Sweeps Wear the Top Hat and Tails?

The traditional garb of the chimney sweep – top hat and Victorian tailcoats – came to be in the 1400’s when sweeps would don the cast-off clothes of undertakers.  The black formal wear gave dignity to the lowly profession and didn’t show the soot from chimneys!


Profession chimney sweeps, certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America can bring you the good luck – not to mention the peace of mind – of a clean and therefore safe chimney.  And just in case there’s some truth to those chimney sweep legends and lore,  when they are at your home, don’t forget to shake their hands or blow them kisses!


Susan shares ways to make homes, especially those with fireplaces, renewing spaces for families. When not writing for, she can often be found by a fireplace with a book in hand.

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