Artist's Statement: A master perfumer on the smell of Jacobean London

| 28 August 2013

Artist’s Statement: Master perfumer Roja Dove on recreating the fragrance of Jacobean London with a bejewelled scent bottle found in the Cheapside Hoard...

A photo of a man creating a perfume in a small bottle while reading from a recipe book
© Roja Dove
“To capture the spirit of Early Stuart England, it is essential to understand the tastes and attitudes towards perfume at this time.

The only two scented floral materials indigenous to Britain were – and still are – lavender and rose, which were often joined with oils from various herbs.

Throughout 17th century England, scented powders were used in the hair. Floral waters were liberally doused on the skin to counteract bodily odour and some of the more unpleasant smells prevalent at the time.

Complex fragrances also came into play at this time, continuing a trend made popular during the reign of Elizabeth I – herself a great perfume lover.

Spices, musk and ambergris joined with exotic materials including frankincense and myrrh, through to the much loved benzoin with its soft and rounded vanillic odour.

I love that 17th century London was such an important port of entry for exotic goods arriving from every corner of the known world.

The idea that scent can reconnect moments in time with one drop and one breath utterly captivates me, and this is something that I kept in the back of my mind at all times when creating this fragrance.

The result of blending the intoxicating fragrance of tonka bean with rose and lavender and rich spices has formed an extremely distinctive, spicy and warm creation – fit for the dazzling treasure trove that is the Cheapside Hoard.”

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