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who travelled to London and opened up shop next to London’s finest tailors. Who received the royal warrant and trimmed the Shah of Persia’s beard. At a time when one’s toilette was of primordial concern and to be a gentleman was an affair of great application.

Victoria was Queen, antiseptic was making its first appea- rance — and ankles were considered titillating stuff. This took place in the decade after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the opening of the Suez Canal and the founding of the London Fire Brigade. As well as the publishing of Dicken’s Great Expectations and Alice in Wonderland, War and Peace and Das Kapital.

It is 1870. Heritage, Empire and Portraiture establish the order of the day. (Most of the time.)


*His name was William Penhaligon.


though no one is terribly sure when this all happened, sometimes it’s best to forget; somewhere in the rolling hills of the English countryside, nestled under a majestic canopy of oaks, the sun is gently rising over a country mansion whose foundations date back to shortly after the arrival of William the Conqueror. (Or thereabouts.)

Unburdened yet by politics and war — there are fires to light and the mornings are getting chilly — two or three domestic servants are arduously at work drawing baths, opening curtains, lighting fires and viciously beating carpets in preparation for the first family gathering of the day. A meal for which the sartorial elegance and attention to detail, and the preparation of the fare, is no less complex than the later meals, but the time available since dawn’s first light is always insufficient — and tensions are high.

Maybe this explains the joyful ebullience with which Lord George and his family greet each other. The happy delight of their first greeting. But is there more to this scene than meets the eye? ‘Manners maketh the man’, but are they also useful as a tool of subterfuge?

What really lies behind the good manners of Britain’s aristocracy? Maybe it is time to find out.

Not all the characters described below are to be found however around the dining table. Some rise late due to their clan- destine nocturnal affairs, whilst there are others whose presence in such a formal family setting would be highly inappropriate. And appearances matter. (cough)

But allow us one indulgence: the artistic licence to introduce you to fictional persons not actually present. Even if their presence is never far... and the perfume of scandal brightens the air.


The inimitable William Penhaligon

When Mr Penhaligon first made cologne (for royals and nobility,) he had set up in Mayfair, (the centre of Old-World civility). Our Dear Queen Victoria, and the Shah of Persia soon wore his scent, and the request for a Royal Warrant had swift regal consent. This was 1870, and the world was discovering what would one day be his legacy.

The above is all true.

Once Upon a Time Lady Blanche sought revenge! Lord George was rather worried. Would Clandestine Clara cause his entire life to up-end? Duchess Rose sought adventure (of the torrid kind). Terrible Teddy was open to suggestions, but his ascent generally pre-empted someone else ́s decline... William Penhaligon, the famous perfumer, was a weekend house guest in the country manor of Lord and Lady George. Like every great artist he felt the need to create a portrait of each one...

The above are all marvellous tales of fiction.

His fragrance

A perfume for gentlemen. Majestic and chic. Like a good friend, stimulating and comforting in equal measure. Like great art and music, uplifting. Composed in expert, meticulous detail, but with strong, confident brush strokes - William Penhaligon ́s own scent. Beyond distinguished. A timeless classic, since 2020. Created with Vetiver, one of perfumery ́s master ingredients. Earthy, warm and fresh. Woven inside an Oriental structure, one of perfumery ́s mistresses of sophistication.

Woody Oriental

Bergamot & Jasmine – VetiVer, incense & cedar Wood – sandalWood & amBrox


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