What Was Perfume Like in Regency England?

What Was Perfume Like in Regency England?

I am avoiding the current hot topic in the world by focusing on something completely different, perfume. I have wondered what perfume in Regency England was like and now I have taken a deep dive into the topic and am ready to share my knowledge. Or at least what I’ve managed to find that experts have compiled!

The Crusaders brought perfume back to Europe but it was not until Catherine of Medici in the 16th century, that it was made popular. She married the future king of France and had a perfumer! Not only perfumes but he made poison too.

In Italy, a scent eventually named Eau de Cologne in 1693, was created from lemon, orange, bergamot, rosemary, bitter orange and neroli (produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree). This scent was so popular that Napoleon had 60 bottles delivered to him each day.

Wilhelm Muelhens made that perfume internationally famous when he received the formula as a wedding present in 1792. He built a small factory, at an address of 4711, and the Eau de Cologne 4711 was a popular souvenir for those visiting Germany.

Juan Floris opened a perfume shop in 1730 in London’s St. Jame’s quarter with toilet waters made of jasmine (Jasmine is a plant that was cultivated in the Indies and used in many perfumes of the time), orange blossom and lavender. Toilet water is created with high alcohol content and is used in bathing or applied as a skin freshener. This perfume made him famous and even better, it can still be purchased today. The Floris perfume shop is still at the original location of 89 Jermyn Street.

The Floris perfume shop on Jermyn Street was in a prime location during the Regency Era. Jermyn Street was the place to be for society gentlemen. It was close to St.James’ Court and in the center of the area of gentlemen’s clubs such as Whites.

In 1820 J. Floris Ltd was granted a Royal Warrant as ‘Smooth Pointed Comb-makers’ to King George IV. This Royal Warrant is still on display in the Floris shop.

“Royal Warrants of Appointment is the ultimate mark of recognition for those who have supplied the highest quality of goods or services to the households of Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh or His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.”

The Creed perfume house was founded by James Henry Creed in 1760 in London. It was not the main line of business though until 1854 when he moved to Paris.

Jean-Francois Houbigant founded his French perfume house in 1775. In 1807 he was named the personal perfumer to Napoleon and created a special perfume for Empress Josephine. In 1912, Houbigant created Quelques Fleurs which is still able to be purchased in our time for $200.

What is your favorite perfume? Do you collect antique perfume bottles? My favorite perfume is Eau du Soir by Sisley.

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Resources used:

  • The Game of Love in Georgian England: Courtship, Emotions, and Material Culture By Sally Holloway
  • https://trulyexperiences.com/blog/what-is-a-royal-warrant/
  • http://www.elegant-lifestyle.com/perfume_houses.htm
  • https://www.janeausten.co.uk/tag/perfume/

15 Responses to What Was Perfume Like in Regency England?

  1. Great post. Thank you for all that information. I’d like if all perfume were made of citrus, especially bergamot. I drink so much Earl Grey, I probably smell like bergamot already 🙂

  2. Really interesting post! I was in Cologne for the Christmas markets in 2019. Amazing city and Cologne Cathedral was magnificent. I saw the original Eau de Cologne store and they have original and many modern scents. My personal favorite is Chanel’s Gardenia. So light and floral.

  3. Perfume can be a powerful weapon when used correctly or incorrectly. It is part of the seduction process that utilizes all the senses. I always scoffed at that but I was once working as a teller [back in the day] and this handsome, well-dressed, man walked up to my teller window. Now, I was behind a panel of glass with a small opening so customers could slide through their money, papers, etc. There was an opening at the top that would often create a draft or back flow toward me if an outside door opened. Well, I have no idea what he was wearing, but I inhaled and became weak in the knees. I’m sure my eyes glazed over. If the glass hadn’t been there, I might have jumped him. Oh-My-Gosh! He smelled so good. LA! [Sorry, honey] Man, it was powerful. Good thing I was married and secure in that marriage. I nearly swooned. I kid you not. I still remember it to this day. [Again, sorry, honey] So I know the power of perfume/scent. This post was fun and made me remember a funny scene in my past. Thank you and stay safe.

  4. I don’t wear a lot of perfume but when I do I usually wear a light musky scent like Jovan. I don’t like it too strong. This was an interesting post!

  5. Thank you for the nice post, Bella. I was given a bottle of Shalimar perfume from a suitor when I was eighteen, and I still love the fragrance. Developed in 1921, it is the flagship perfurme for Guerlain. It’s a lovely fragrance in a beautiful bottle, and my favorite. <3

  6. How fascinating! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    My favorite perfume is “Whispers in the Library” by Replica.

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