Sandringham is the Edwardian British masculine floral personified. It sits poignantly among other greats such as Dukes of Pall Mall Cotswold, Dunhill for Men, Floris no. 89, and even Hammam Bouquet. Sandringham features a realistic--likely natural--muguet note (lily) which is tempered by spices, woods, and musks to keep it safely masculine. Sandringham is an Edwardian dandy's scent (blast that it doesn't have an animalic element though) built around quality ingredients and traditional craft. We can only pray that Clive Christian chooses not to renew his trademark over Crown Perfumery when it expires in 2016 and that someone will revive these lost gems.
On me, this is a powerful, aromatic mossy-herbal scent. The citrus and floral escape me, or disappear instantly. The herbal notes are very interesting. I detect thyme in abundance, and also perhaps marjoram, mint and/or rosemary. There are supposed to be “sweet woody notes” but I find they are very minor, compared to the assertive and slightly sweet herbal notes. I appreciate herbal scents, and I enjoy this one. But for me, it is so assertive that I must apply lightly. I find it really gains in intensity in the drydown. It definitely has an old-school vibe.
As is often the case with fragrances with strong wood notes, I don’t pick up any opening citrus except that there’s a fresh sharpness to the pine in the opening accord that most likely is attributable to citrus notes. The opening I perceive is a unique wood / lavender accord: Unique in the sense that it is not at all mass market or plebian: It has a blue-blooded air about it. It, in fact, is as snobbish in its use of wood, moss, and lavender as Penhaligan’s Blenheim Bouquet is in BB’s use of citrus, lavender, and pine. This wood / moss accord in Sandringham is not what I would call refined or sophisticated — it’s more rustic and demanding. It’s a unique accord that obliges respect while it flaunts attitude — a self-assured panache incorporated into a potent streak of well-rehearsed aloofness. Of course these attitude notes have a certain country elegance about them, but there is more attitude than style. Sandringham is fairly linear and there is basically only one wood / moss accord and that particular accord accomplishes everything. It is as tenacious as it is as imposing. There is no letup for hours — except for the gradual reduction of its swagger as time goes by. Woods are my favorite category of fragrance, but Sandringham is so much more than an excellent wood scent: It is an arch-alpha male personality. (Edit of 24 April 2007 review.)
Dirty doings in the library! Has our gent brought in a lady of questionable background? To me, Sandringham is like a member of the upper crust slumming in his own heavily wood-paneled manor. This is most bitter of all the Crowns, topping Eau de Quinine or even the face-slapping Esterhazy. Do I detect quinine amidst the herbs and wood? There is definitely a non-citrus bitter component that performs a great balancing act with the sweetness.
I love to occasionally wear Sandringham for a bit of shock value. On a woman, it's twice as in-your-face as on a man.
Some have called this a chypre, but the predominance of lavender in it makes it seem more of a fougère to me. That is neither here nor there, I suppose. What is interesting about this is the sort of old-world, old-school masculine vibe that was so dominant in men's scents until thirty years ago or so. Dating from 1873, Sandringham (named for Sandringham House, a crown estate of the British royal family in Norfolk) seems like a snapshot of mid-to-late-Victorian masculine elegance and (perhaps not too happily) probity. It does have a bit of the stuffed shirt about it. At the same time, the woody base in the back note is a tad rougher, leading the redoubtable Baron de Charlus (channeled as archly as ever by our own Naed_Nitram) to allege that it has "perhaps a hint of the royal brothel about it." The drydown is softer, and comes fairly promptly, though it lasts quite a long time. In fact, for longevity, this is one of the more remarkable scents. It is getting hard to find, as with so many bygone classics; nonetheless lovers of period pieces will quite likely adore this.