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Museum of London challenges master perfumer Roja Dove to rediscover the fragrance of Jacobean England
British Master Perfumer, Roja Dove says: “To capture the spirit of Early Stuart England, it is essential to understand the tastes and attitudes towards perfume at this time. The only two scented floral materials indigenous to Britain were – and still are – lavender and rose, which were often joined with oils from various herbs.
LONDON.- The Museum of London has commissioned British Master Perfumer – and the world’s only UKTI Creative Ambassador for fragrance – Roja Dove to reimagine the scent of London’s vanished past. The perfume will feature as part of a major new exhibition, The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels, opening at the museum this October.

The Cheapside Hoard is the world’s largest and most exquisite cache of Elizabethan and Early Stuart jewellery. Discovered by chance in a cellar deep underground in London’s Cheapside in 1912, it is London’s most breath-taking stash of buried treasure. The exhibition is the first time that the Hoard has been displayed in its entirety since its discovery over 100 years ago.

Roja Dove’s perfume, spliced with ingredients popular in the 17th Century, will combine lavender, frankincense, civet and other notes to create an evocative sensory installation, transporting visitors back to the opulent perfumes of Elizabethan and Early Stuart London.

The scent will be displayed alongside one of the star pieces of the Cheapside Hoard – a gold, enamel, diamond and opal-set scent bottle. Seventeenth Century fragrance ingredients and objects used to transport these across the globe from the Museum of London’s collection and the Roja Dove archive will also go on show.

British Master Perfumer, Roja Dove says: “To capture the spirit of Early Stuart England, it is essential to understand the tastes and attitudes towards perfume at this time. The only two scented floral materials indigenous to Britain were – and still are – lavender and rose, which were often joined with oils from various herbs.

“Throughout 17th Century England, scented powders were used in the hair, whilst floral waters were liberally doused on the skin to counteract bodily odour and some of the more unpleasant smells prevalent at the time. Complex fragrances also came into play at this time, continuing a trend made popular during the reign of Elizabeth I – who was herself a great perfume lover. Spices, musk and ambergris joined with exotic materials including frankincense, and myrrh through to the much loved benzoin with its soft and rounded vanillic odour.”

To recreate this strong and heady fusion, Roja Dove will blend geranium, rose, lavender and patchouli with earthier scents of clove, clary sage, vetiver, cedarwood and oakmoss. Tonka bean, coumarin, labdanum, beeswax, frankincense, civet, benzoin and spices are added to complete the composition.

Roja Dove continues: “I love that 17th Century London was such an important port of entry for exotic goods arriving from every corner of the known world. The idea that scent can re-connect moments in time with one drop and one breath utterly captivates me. And this is something that I kept in the back of my mind at all times when creating this fragrance. The result of blending the intoxicating fragrance of tonka bean with that of rose and lavender and rich spices has formed an extremely distinctive, spicy and warm creation fit for the dazzling treasure trove that is the Cheapside Hoard.”

Hazel Forsyth, curator of The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels at Museum of London says: “Ever since its unexpected discovery in June 1912, the Cheapside Hoard has been swathed in mystery, rich in questions that had been left unanswered for too long. Some of these questions concern the bejewelled scent bottle found amidst Hoard. How was it used? Did did it contain perfume? What may that perfume have smelt like? Our collaboration with Roja Dove has seen us add a further sensory dimension to our exhibition, recreating the perfume of Elizabethan and Early Stuart London for our visitors as they encounter the Cheapside Hoard for the very first time.”

The Cheapside Hoard will be displayed alongside multimedia installations, objects from the Museum of London’s collection and rarely seen portraits, creating a picture of the fashions and culture at play in Elizabethan and Early Stuart London.

From the emerald mines of Colombia to the diamond gravels of India and pearl banks of Bahrain, the jewels and gemstones within the Cheapside Hoard hail from all corners of the world, showcasing London’s role in the international gem trade in an age of global conquest and exploration. Each piece tells a tantalising story, from gift giving at the Elizabethan court to tales of international trade and discovery and vignettes on fashion, wealth and power.

Admission charges apply. Tickets are now on sale.




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