Rule Britannia…. Elizabeth I by Jean Patou and Historic Royal Palaces for Dame Judi Dench The Perfumed Dandy’s Four Thespian Roses for St Valentine’s Day 

The power of a queen is not determined by her physical stature.

Nor the impact of an actress by her tenure on the screen.

Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar for her fleeting performance of Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare In Love”.

Outshining, to some minds, many of the juvenile leads.

Whether on set she wore the perfume that bears the name of ‘good Queen bess’ I must confess I do not know.

However it would have been most appropriate, for this work of olfactory archaeology must by one of the most ancient scents on the market today.

Lost for many years, the recipe for what fancies itself to be the fragrance worn by England’s Great Virgin, was rediscovered in the library of the Royal Horticultural Society in a volume enticingly named ‘The Mystery and Lure of Perfume’ by C J S Thompson.

It reads thus:

”Take 8 grains of musk and put in rose-water 8 spoonfuls, 3 spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Boil for five hours and strain it”

How closely these instructions have been followed by Patou, who worked with Historic Royal Palaces, to restore the perfume is unknown.

The result, however, is distinctly pleasing.

Old fashioned in an imperially-laundered way, it is an aroma by which to set sail and conquer continents.

Subtle, yet persuasive, it is not provocative or alluring, this is a pretty, clean, restrained rose to be admired, but not defiled.

One imagines it was once used in great quantities and in so doing to similar effect…

A side note on Dame Judi, though her appearance in this instance might have been short, her presence on the British stage and screen is long.

She first appeared professionally in 1957 at the Old Vic, forerunner to the National Theatre. She has gone on to play practically every major female part in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, Chekhov, Ibsen and the modern canon.

She won her first BAFTA film award (of six) in 1966, her first for television in 1968, the same year that she opened in the West End premiere of Cabaret as Sally Bowles to huge acclaim.

And whilst she has amassed more than 25 major film awards over her 55 year plus career it is to the theatre that she belongs.

Perhaps best known to the rest of the world as ‘M’ in the Bond films, at the age of 79 she has been voted ‘Greatest Theatre Actor of All Time’ by her peers and fellow professionals in industry bible “The Stage”.

Rose Queen of the Theatre.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy



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13 responses to “Rule Britannia…. Elizabeth I by Jean Patou and Historic Royal Palaces for Dame Judi Dench The Perfumed Dandy’s Four Thespian Roses for St Valentine’s Day 

  1. Lilybelle

    What roses you’re choosing for us today! I ADORE Dame Judi Dench. How interesting that Patou revived Queen Elizabeth I’s fragrance. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at some of those old recipes, especially Hungary Water. I’m sampling Caron’s Rose today. It’s gorgeous, so naturally it would have to be discontinued (sob).

    • Dearest Lily
      How could anyone not adore Dame Judi!?!
      Though there are some snipers I notice on YouTube (a medium that seems to bring out the worst in human nature) that declare of here amazing performance of ‘Send In The Clowns’ that she cannot sing!
      Patou, were, at least as I understand it, commissioned to carry out the restoration by Historic Royal Palaces, perhaps because of our current Queen’s well known fondness for Joy.
      What they have done is in a small way wonderful, but I’m sure we have very little way to know if it is accurate…
      Caron’s Rose… now I’m turning to jelly.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. SallyM

    Dear Mr. Dandy,
    Fascinating! How I love to read about old recipes unearthed in hidden books. I have a cook book of Medieval recipes – a modern copy of course, but based on Ye Olde Grub. I wonder what the roses were that they used in the original recipe besides the Damask rose – it would be very interesting to see how closely JP stuck to the formula.

    And Judi Dench – the absolute epitome of all good things British and class.

    Being admittedly rose challenged but also a Guerlain gal, I’m going full on today by wearing vintage Nahema – if this doesn’t get me over my phobia, then I’m doomed.

    Have a wonderful rose-wafted Valentines Day πŸ™‚

    • Dearest Sally
      Ah yes, Nahema.
      You know, it’s never been recommended for me to wear and so has yet to appear on The Hit Parade… one day perhaps.
      *The Dandy dream*
      Have your read Alice Thomas Ellis’ “Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring”? An absolute must for anyone with a curiosity for receipts of the culinary kind.
      I hope your day is as magically rose-scented as mine is proving to be.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. “Judi, Judi, Judi!”Cary Grant never said that but I am saying it because I love her. Great Britain has given the world some of the greatest actors of all time from Richard Burbage to Richard Burton, Nell Gwyn to Maggie Smith. Dame Judi Dench the rose crowned queen of my heart. I would Love to try this perfume… where to get it one wonders?

    • Dearest Lanier
      Why have all your comments gone astray… do excuse me while I catch up with my correspondence!
      How wonderful you are to remember Burbage and Gwynne among your panoply of stars, my personal favourite a playwright too and arguably the man who created the ‘modern’ theatre was Colley Cibber a thespian so fantastic he had to have two man and a sedan chair to carry his periwig on stage for him.
      Anyway, I digress.
      This perfume is, sadly I think, a limited edition, only available at the shops of the Historic Royal Palaces, so you shall have to visit Hampton Court, The Tower, Kew, or I believe one of your favourites The Banqueting House, once again to get your sticky mitts on a flask… more reasons to get back over here mister!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Oh…Oh… to get my sticky mitts on any and all the wonders of London town. You are a dear boy to tell me about Colley Cibber…I must investigate for you know I love stories about the theater (Bryant won my heart with his wonderful tales of life on the boards) and tomes replete with sedan chairs and periwigs! (The both need to make a comeback!) All my best to you Dear Dandy!

  4. rosestrang

    Dame Judi Dench definitely outshone everyone in Shakespeare in Love, her performance is the only thing I can remember from the film! Elizabeth I seemed to know a thing or two about the arts back then didn’t she? How did we get from Shakespeare to the ‘Royal Variety Performance’, hmph!
    That rose does sound interesting. Another rose perfume that smells Elizabethan to me is oddly enough Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose – like mulled wine and Elizabethan kitchens

    • Dearest Rose
      You know, you’re spot on. When looking through stills from that film I found I could remember practically nothing about it apart from Dame Judi’s 8 minutes!
      Oh dear, The Royal Variety Performance. Yes. Not good.
      It’s been quite a while, Princess Margaret I suppose, since we had any senior Royal who took anything approaching a semi-serious interest in the arts. That said, The Royal Gallery, is very well run to my mind and some of its exhibitions are models of curation.
      I must try more Andy Tauer, mulled wine and Elizabethan kitchens… that sounds perfect in this devilish weather.
      Yours ever
      Th Perfumed Dandy


    oh yesss, judi dench. thank you for marrying perfume and stage! such a perfect match. in fact, I once have made a plan to launch a fragrance line called ‘perfume theater’. it was a good idea in itself, it wasn’t only about the name, but maybe one day later πŸ˜‰

    as for patou… oh, they should bring back ‘forever’ or I’ll be hating them – guess! – forever. it was the most alluring perfume, and they had the courage to marry such lightheaded notes as ananas and raspberry and make them all mischievous, androgynous, sparkling… a shining, exclusive flapper dress of a scent. you wore it and all you wanted was date yourself. there’s one bottle still in my possession and I’m all gollum over it. I persuade myself that the scent hasn’t changed. but it probably has. (do I sound resentful? that’s because I am)

    • Dearest Calypse
      Wouldn’t a line called ‘Perfume Theatre’ work terrifically well, I’ve thought before that one based just on the pays of Shakespeare could cover most of the bases, but then when that took in notable playwrights from around the world would be wonderful.
      Imagine… Brecht: The Fragrance.
      Now that would be something.
      Patou is sadly diminished, which is a shame, they have had so many perfumes marketed to both men and women that have been either deleted or turned to mush through changes in formulation and ownership,
      Your description of Forever is a wonder… ‘A scent so good you’ll want to date yourself’ sounds like one of the best catchphrases from the golden age of advertising!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy


        brecht: the fragrance. oh dear me. wait, it probably doesn’t need any fancy packaging, right?

        as for patou, I’ve visited their paris boutique and the bespoke perfume atelier what feels a hundred years ago, and had much hope that they would make it happen and live up to the old glory days. but no.

        thank you for the golden age one :O)

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