Edward Bodenham, the ninth-generation scion of Floris, Britain’s oldest perfume-maker which sits in the heart of Mayfair, usually spends his days introducing clients to famous scents, including one custom-made for Winston Churchill, and another for Marilyn Monroe.
But following a recent inspection by this reporter of some of the secret archives in a back room—think ledger books with orders and re-orders from various Royals, going back to when the family-run business opened here in 1730—he had something more to show.
Bodenham descended the stairs, leading into a cold basement, a cavernous area that served as his grandfather’s former workshop, from which fragrances once wafted up to the street.
He then hesitated and turned the corner into an alcove hidden from sight, and pointed at a boarded-up archway descending into a tunnel of darkness in the corner.
It is one of several secret tunnels that the family rediscovered here when they renovated this part of the building not too long ago.
His theory, based on family folklore and other research, is that the gentlemen of London used these tunnels to stay out of sight and get into mischief.