The Scent of History: Penhaligon’s one of London’s oldest perfumeries

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While wandering the boutiques of London’s Covent Garden, you may catch a hint of fragrance in the air – perhaps the sweet scent of creamy vanilla, or heady and mysterious patchouli. If you follow your nose, you’ll find yourself on the doorstep of Penhaligon’s, one of London’s oldest perfumeries, scenting the nation since 1870.

Penhaligon’s started as a barber shop on Jermyn Street, selling colognes and perfumes to London’s elite. In 1901, William Henry Penhaligon became ‘Barber and Perfumer to the Royal Court’, under the reign of Queen Victoria. The shop was destroyed during the blitz of 1941 and it wasn’t until 1975 that Penhaligon’s was reopened in its current Covent Garden location by the fashion designer, Sheila Pickles.

Penhaligon’s currently stock 35 signature scents, with the most famous being Hammam Bouquet and Blenheim Bouquet. Hammam Bouquet was the first perfume created by William Penhaligon in 1872, inspired by the scent of Turkish Baths. The evocative scent is a heady mixture of musk, sandalwood and Turkish rose. Blenheim Bouquet, with base notes of musk and black pepper and a hint of citrus, was created especially for the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace and was a favourite fragrance of Winston Churchill.

winston-churchill

The perfume house continues to release a new fragrance each year, with the most recent being Peoneve, a floral fragrance with notes of wood, evocative of an English summer garden; and Juniper Sling, inspired by London Dry Gin with notes of juniper, black pepper and brown sugar. Past perfumes are also re-released periodically.

The perfumes are displayed in distinctive glass bottles, based on Penhaligon’s original design, with Victorian-style labels and a ribbon-wrapped top. The shop also stocks a range of attractively-packaged scented bath and body products, candles and shaving accessories. Much of the appeal of shopping in Penhaligon’s comes from the presentation of the fragrances and the way the shop is designed, evoking a romantic, vintage atmosphere from days gone by.

For those who can’t decide on their favourite scent, Penhaligon’s also offer a free fragrance profiling service. Customers can have a private session where they are guided through choosing their own signature perfume and have the opportunity to learn more about the history and philosophy of the Penhaligon’s brand. Appointments must be booked in advance.

If you can’t make it to the London store for a profiling session, it is possible to order a Scent Library from Penhaligon’s website, containing sample size phials of 10 of the most popular fragrances including Blenheim Bouquet, Endymion, Sartorial, Quercus, Opus 1870, Artemisia, Malabah, Ellenisia, Lily of the Valley and Bluebell.

Penhaligon’s is located at 41 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7BN. The nearest tube station is Covent Garden. Shop opening hours are 10am-6pm Monday – Wednesday; 10am-7pm Thursday – Saturday; and 12pm-6pm on Sunday.

There are several other Penhaligon’s stores located at several locations in London, Cambridge, Chester and Edinburgh, and Penhaligon’s scents are stocked by many different perfumeries, worldwide.

Penhaligon’s also have an online shop at: Penhaligons.com, which ships worldwide.

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