London-based perfumer Roja Dove has designed a perfume to coincide with the opening of a new exhibition at the Museum of London entitled ‘The Cheapside Hoard’.
The Hoard is a stash of Tudor jewellery uncovered by workman while digging foundations in 1912, in an area of the City of London known as Cheapside. The collection, which has never been put on display to the public in its entirety, is thought to date from between 1640 to 1666, when the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the City. It’s believed that the large collection was stock belonging to a jeweller “It’s the biggest and most important collection of Elizabethan jewellery in the world” said curator Hazel Forsyth. “It’s a time capsule of contemporary taste, manufacture and design”.
Among the items buried in the mud was an ornate perfume bottle suspended on a chain. The Museum of London asked Roja Dove, who owns the Haute Parfumerie at Harrods, to create a perfume evocative of the era.
Visitors can gaze at the exquisite perfume bottle while they put their noses to a small grate where the perfume is encased in the wall behind it, rather like a priest’s confessional, to be sensed but not seen.
Dove says "I love the idea that London was such an important port of entry for exotic goods arriving from every corner of the known world. Spices, musk and ambergris, would have joined exotic materials such as frankincense and myrrh, and the much loved benzoin, often referred to as benjamin at this time, with its soft rounded vanilla odour. These richly scented materials were far removed from the puritan smell of lavender or the foul stench of the streets and unwashed bodies. Perfume showed your position in society. Perfume defines status."
The perfume contains ambergris, rose and spices – ingredients typical of the time but available only to the very richest. There is also a case in the exhibition which shows some raw materials which would have been used at the time including ambergris, pouches of musk, and castoreum.