Vignettes of Old Marylebone: No 7 – “V for Victory!”

Jennie Jerome

One of Creed‘s best-selling millesime fragrances at LES SENTEURS is Tabarome, a modern interpretation of the dark cigar-smokey cologne once reputedly worn by Winston Churchill. Having freshly spruced up with Tabarome’s warm woods, ginger and citrus then sally forth to pay an additional homage to the Churchill family. Not two minutes away, bang opposite the Odeon on the Edgware Road, is the vast building which was once the London home of Winston Churchill’s parents, Lord Randolph and Lady Jennie. (Think of the stairs! think of the servants!) She, of course, was American, a fact that her son was inordinately proud of: he inherited much of his charm, cordiality and joie de vivre from her transatlantic genes. Her astonishing beauty however passed him by. He was a bullish redhead while Miss Jennie Jerome had the type of melting dark looks which can still be appreciated today: portraits of her contemporaries are often a sad disappointment but Jennie’s abundant dark curls, full mouth and great soulful eyes remain mesmerising. Before the arrival of the cinema, professional beauties were the great stars of late Victorian London with their latest photographs in shop windows bringing the traffic to a halt in Oxford Street. Lady. Churchill was one of many lovelies of whom it was said that onlookers scrambled to stand on chairs, carriage seats and Park benches to catch a glimpse of in the flesh. Three times married and reputedly the mistress of Edward VII Jennie died as the result of a freakish accident involving new high heels hastily put on and a consequent fall downstairs. Put to bed, she mistook a fatal haemorrhage for a leaking hot water bottle.

How fitting that the Victory Services Club should now be practically next door to Sir Winston’s childhood home, occupying Connaught House in Seymour Street. Founded in 1907 to look after Boer War veterans, the Club moved to Marble Arch from Holborn in the late 1940’s. Churchill’s photo portrait hangs in the foyer of the concern in which he took a great personal interest. Nowadays the Club offers accommodation, restaurants and entertainment to servicemen, their families and connections. I heard about it from a friend who is a most enthusiastic member: her late father served in the RAF and she recommends the Club for unbeatable comfort, convenience and value right in the heart of London. And so handy for a perfume spree. At LES SENTEURS we used to sell Jean Patou’s L’Heure Attendue, created in 1944 to celebrate the Liberation of France. Many Churchill ladies since are said to have admired and worn it; I remember commenting on this to a German visitor to the shop who replied, “In that case, give me a bottle directly!” That famed Churchill charm you see: the spell remains potent.

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