Monday 20 July 2020

COURT BOUQUET by The Crown Perfumery

The history of perfume houses is one of the parts of the fragrance industry that fans love. Finding out about your favourite company, and the struggles they may have overcome, can really help to cement the bond between you and your favourite scent. Unfortunately the news isn't always as positive as we might wish but, if you look hard enough, there's always a reason to celebrate. This is what happened with Barry Gibson and The Crown Perfumery. Whilst the company may no longer be in its original form, you’ll definitely recognise what it has become. Let me introduce you to the time capsule that is Court Bouquet.

Who hasn’t dreamed of rummaging through boxes of antique books in a second-hand shop and discovering one that contained lost perfume formulas? The thrill that would be felt as it dawns on you just what you’re reading would be priceless. Okay it might not have been exactly like that, but this is essentially what happened to Barry Gibson in the mid-eighties. He had purchased some antique books on perfumery and one of them ended up being a formula book for The Crown Perfumery. The company had long gone by this point, but his interest was roused and so he did some research.

The Crown Perfumery was founded in 1872 by William Thomson, an American who had made his name with crinolines and corsets. He set up the company in London, where he was then based, and it very quickly developed an impressive following from the social elite. Even Queen Victoria allowed the image of her crown to be used on the bottles. The company became famous for their Lavender Smelling Salts in green glass containers and the iconic Crab Apple Blossoms perfume, but there were storm clouds on the horizon. The Great War had a major impact on the business, and it would never fully recover.

The company was sold to William Gossage & Sons in 1921, which would later become part of Unilever, but eventually ceased trading in 1939. However, Barry Gibson purchased the name in 1989 and, five years later, The Crown Perfumery was back with faithful recreations of its iconic fragrances. The company was again sold in 1999 to Clive Christian who, whilst keeping the design, discontinued all of the fragrances. The perfumes had been made using the finest ingredients and, because of this, now command very high prices on auction sites. However, if you do feel like treating yourself, let me recommend Court Bouquet.

Originally launched between 1875 and 1882, Court Bouquet is described as a feminine fougere. It opens with a citrus medley of bergamot and lemon, although a touch of lime joins with galbanum to give a green brightness to the scent. This gives way to notes of jasmine and heliotrope, imagine the scent of a Guerlain lipstick, before an aromatic mossy base reveals itself. These traces of mint and lavender, possibly from the artemisia, help to keep the fragrance intriguingly green. With a silky finish of sweetened cedarwood, a dose of tuberose, and even a dash of animalic civet, Court Bouquet is a wonderful example of a bygone age.

Court Bouquet is now discontinued but often appears on internet auction sites. For more information about The Crown Perfumery you can visit Barbara Miller's incredible website,


  1. What a wonderful read Stephan. Brings back memories of visiting the Crown Perfumery shop that used to be in the Burlington Arcade, and no, I'm not talking about the 1870s ha ha. I think I bought a bottle of their scent that had Russie in the name.

    Did you know that a company called Anglia Perfumery has actually recreated a lot of the Crown Perfumery Scents? They're available from The English Scent in Germany.

    1. Hello Barry, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I'd heard of Anglia Perfumery but have never ordered from them ... perhaps it's time to have a look? Best, Stephan

    2. I've just checked and I must have used up the samples that I had quite a while back. Sorry, I would have sent them to you. It's worth contacting Anglia, or The English Scent for samples. They sent me quite a few free ones about 6 years ago, although things may have changed by now. Worth a try.