Scent of the City
This time Tina Baxter on the perfume house Grossmith. Tina’s next walk is about T S Eliot’s The Wasteland on January 17th
A visit to Fortnum & Mason proved to be quite an adventure. A day off from being a City Guide and what happens? To escape the chaos of the ground floor my companion and I went to the Perfume Floor and I was immediately drawn to an exquisite display. A step back in time! I had discovered Grossmith London, an enticing and exciting perfume house.
Grossmith is one of England’s oldest perfume houses, founded in the City of London in 1835. Since 1901 to 1925 the company was awarded Royal Warrants by Queen Alexandra and the Royal Courts of Greece and Spain. They have recently re-established their connection with royalty by creating a perfume for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – a limited edition of 500 bottles, called Diamond Jubilee Bouquet.
At the Great Exhibition of 1851 Grossmith was the only English company to be awarded a prize medal for perfumes and essential oils.
The company has only recently returned to family ownership. The current owner Simon Brooke, the great, great grandson of the founder, made the discovery of the family’s connection with perfume by chance whilst researching the family tree. It is also by coincidence, happenstance and sheer good fortune that the company has gone on to discover lost formulas, moulds for bottles and long lost label designs. They have revived celebrated scents of days gone by especially Phul-Nana (created 1891) described as “A bouquet of India’s choicest flowers’ one of Grossmith’s most revered perfume.
If you get an opportunity to visit Fortnum & Mason’s do go and view the exquisite bottles and designs. Especially the ‘Serie de Luxe’ the perfumes are presented in Baccarat flacons based on an original design commissioned by Grossmith in 1919. This particular set is a particular favourite of the Saudi Royal family, price available on application. Can you guess what it might be?
Grossmith have also created a perfume exclusive to Fortnum & Mason – Sylvan Song (2014). Delicious and I quote ‘it’s a familiar musky floral, with a citrusy top and a balsamic base’. If I was buying this would be the one for me.
The original factory was based in Newgate Street and the ingredients arrived by boat and were landed at Dowgate, so I plan to investigate further into the history of the company and Grossmith will of course be mentioned in future Thames River walks.