Yardley of London - English Lavender
Being a newlywed, I have every excuse to shamelessly shop for deals at the local dollar store. On one of my first trips there, I happened to be on a hunt for hand soap to place in my sparkling new soap dish. Squeezed between the more in-your-face brands, I found .. Yardley’s English Lavender … try saying that with a posh British accent. Of course, being the Anglophile that I am (if something says London on it, I WILL buy it), I’ve been using Yardley of London soap ever since.
Having fallen in love with the gentle creaminess and soothing scents of Yardley soaps, I was curious about this English company and how its products showed up in my American dollar store. Not long into my research, I discovered that Yardley has centuries of renown behind its simple unassuming label.
The Beginning of Yardley
So for a bit of a history lesson, Yardley London has been in business for almost two hundred and fifty years, since 1770, making it the oldest toiletry-producing company in the world. This fabulous British soap company is older than the United States of America! The name Yardley comes from a man named Jonathan Yardley, a merchant of soap to the City of London in the 1600's. Unfortunately the remnants of his business were lost after the Great Fire of London of 1666 waiting a hundred years before the business was recovered.
The ever elegant Deborah Kerr advertising Yardley
The Royal Warrants
You may notice the image of the Royal Coat of Arms on Yardley labels. This signifies that Yardley London has a Royal Warrant under the British Royal Family. Royal Warrants are granted to tradespeople and businesses that the Royalty endorses. In the past century, Yardley has been issued six Royal Warrants, signifying that the Royal Family receive goods from Yardley. This gives the company a tremendous standing before the public, showing that they are a trustworthy business selling high-quality goods.
Yardley in Pop Culture
Yardley became a big part of the Mod sub-culture of Swinging London in the 1960s, selling the look of the English model Twiggy. Through Yardley, fashion-savvy teens could buy extravagant Twiggy eyelashes and makeup. Olivia Hussey (of Romeo and Juliet) also modeled for Yardley, promoting an innocent, romantic look. Even Davy Jones of The Monkees starred in a television commercial for Yardley's Black Label cologne.
The signature Yardley scent since the beginning has always been English Lavender. Nowadays, not just any lavender is used, but only lavender that is grown in southern England especially for Yardley. Blooming in early June, the rows of flowers coat the English countryside with soft purple beauty. English Lavender was especially popular in the 1800's. The Victorians, craving pure-essence perfumes, were delighted by the scent which was soon exported to America as well.
From lavender flower spikes, an essential oil is derived which is then used to scent bath products. The English were not the first to make use of lavender in toiletry products. The Greeks and Romans used lavender in bathing, and the ancient Egyptians used it in mummification. Some think that the nard used Mary used in the gospel of John to anoint Jesus' feet was actually lavender. Over the years, lavender has been used in cooking, medicine, tea, even insect repellent.
Shopping for Yardley Bath Products
Unfortunately, our dollar store only carries a limited supply, but if ever I want to shop the collection of Yardley soap, I can simply buy them from yardleyshop.com. Yardley online holds a variety of soap and other bath products. The soap bars range from Baby Gentle to Honeysuckle Citrus to the classic English Lavender. I’ve only tried the Oatmeal Almond and the Lavender so far, but both are lovely, gentle, and smell-good. If you can’t decide which scent to go with, just take the quick quiz at yardleylondon.com to get a personal suggestion for you.
Over two and a half centuries, Yardley of London has become a British tradition as well as a world trader of soap, perfume, and cosmetics. Through so many years, Yardley has maintained a strong foundation of quality while still appealing to the modern public.
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Davy Jones of the Monkees wearing Yardley Black Label
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© 2013 Rose West
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