‘It gives a lovely light’


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

—Matthew 5:14-16 (King James Version)

That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws its beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

—William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

—Edna St. Vincent Millay, “First Fig”

Stuff Aesthetic Fascists Like: What more can be added to the epigraphs that speak eloquently to the physical ambiance and spiritual import of candles? On my recent holiday to London, I stumbled across True Grace at the Burlington Arcade in Mayfair—the city’s toniest neighborhood. For an Anglophile like myself, True Grace is a godsend, offering fragrances, available in candles and room diffusers, that capture “the fugitive essence of England. The inspiration of manor houses, village life, and the garden bring [their] products to romantic life.” Here are the standout fragrances according to my sniffer, all given evocative descriptions.

Village Collection

  • English Meadow – As English as a meadow in summer. Tall grass and drifts of wild flowers run down to willows framing the mossy banks of a little stream.
  • English Lavender – Walking through rolling banks of lavender in full flower—a haze of deep purple in the hot sun. It soothes and relaxes, enriched with geranium, clary sage and sandalwood.
  • Rosemary & Eucalyptus – A classical herbal mixture of woody rosemary with earthy and fresh eucalyptus. A touch of frankincense, camphor and cardamom add to this exhilarating fragrance.
  • Conifer – Bracken and moss show bright green among the fallen pine needles and cones in the wood. The lasting scent of fresh green pine mixed with warm resin and sandalwood.
  • Seashore – A bracing walk on the cliff tops and the light-headed feeling of being by the sea with the wind blowing a gale. A scent balanced with geranium, neroli, cedarwood and moss.

Manor Collection

  • English Garden – Rain on fresh green lawns, sheltering under the majestic cedar tree. Memories of garden parties and afternoon tea. Basil, black pepper and cedarwood.
  • Fig – Sensuous sweetness, velvety texture and deep colour are all recalled in this warm fragrance. Musk and cedarwood balance lighter cassis and mandarin.
  • Library – Walking into a library with the scent of leather covered books, lovingly polished furniture and ancient library shelves. A smoky blend of wood, amber and moss.
  • Portobello Oud – Where it all began for us. Memories of our candle stall among a myriad of others selling exotic food, spices and antique leather furniture.
  • Sacristy – The stillness and beauty we found in an ancient chapel, wooden panelling with years of beeswax polish, leather-bound prayer books, pillar candles and a hint of incense.

Curious Collection

  • Curious Bergamont – The distinctive and surprising scent of bergamot is blended with sharp juniper berry, sweet basil and deep tones of wood. A curiously refreshing, stimulating and seductive combination.
  • Curious Havana – A freshly opened box of cigars takes us immediately to Havana. Notes of amber, musk and tonga beans evoke warm, cuban nights with tobacco smoke and jazz drifting on the breeze.

* True Grace products can be purchased directly from the website, but delivery from the United Kingdom is expensive (£30.00). Amara, a British retailer of luxury gifts and designer homeware, offers more affordable delivery ($7.99 for orders under $150.00, free orders above $150). For stockists of True Grace in the United States, go to ZGO (San Francisco, CA) and  Candle Delirium.

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