A bright spark in Belgravia

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The British fragrance industry is known for its many interesting and colourful characters. Its latest addition, the effusive and buoyant Rachel Vosper, is no exception, whose eponymous scented candle boutique Glass was fortunate enough to visit last month.

With 19 years experience in “candle chandlery” (the art of making candles), Vosper was originally based in the Caribbean, before moving to Devon and made a name for herself creating candles for the likes of Hollywood glitterati, socialites, US presidents and supermodels.

She eventually decided to open a London atelier – resulting in her eponymous Belgravia boutique and workshop. The interiors – designed by Vosper herself – aren’t imposing and glamorous in the intimidating sense. Instead she has created a rustic and welcoming little nook and – as one might expect – a delightfully scented one at that.

Candle Chandler Rachel Vosper

Candle Chandler Rachel Vosper

But what really makes the shop stand out is the workshop at the back, where all the candles are hand-poured and where Vosper runs bespoke candle chandlery courses. The place is very much her home, where she proudly oversees every aspect from selling to teaching. “I can’t imagine ever being [successful] enough not to be present on the shop floor,” she remarks. “I love it in here, especially when I open up in the morning and have the odd half hour of me time before the customers come in.”

As Vosper takes us through the different candle ingredients, she explains that although her candles do contain paraffin (together with beeswax), its quality is such that no harmful substances are emitted. “There are different types of paraffin,” she says of the ingredient, which other independent candle companies have avoided. “It’s like with anything, the poorer the quality, the more hazardous it is.”

Rachel Vosper Candles and Gift Boxes

Rachel Vosper Candles and Gift Boxes

Last but not least are the scents themselves, through which Vosper takes us on a whistle-stop tour. Each one is as nuanced and evocative as any of the leading perfume houses and housed in curvaceous glass vessels in pretty colours (“I wanted the glass to be translucent, so it emits a glow as the candle is lit,” Vosper explains). Those like myself who are longing for autumn will be enchanted by the addition of two new scents (available as candles and scented wax tree decorations) Spiced Amber and Winter Fig. The latter – with peach sweetened raisin and cinnamon – is a must for any sweet-toothed scent lover. Vosper also offers a unique refill service, which allows customers to bring in any “vessel” (which can hold up to having wax poured into it) and have it filled with whichever scented wax happens to tickle their wick.

We are then lead into Vosper’s charming workshop and taken through the different stages of candle pouring, as well as being taught how to set a wick and how to trim it correctly (if you’re burning a candle for several hours, you should trim the wick very short to prevent “tunneling” – where there is a “dip” in the centre of the candle after the wax has dried). There’s something very soothing and therapeutic about pouring the wax into the glass jar (which is done in three stages). I’m left with a pretty “Choisya” candle, which over the next week has proven itself to be a welcome addition to my desk, with its cheery bouquet of orange blossom, bergamot and white flowers.

Rachel Vosper's Atelier

Rachel Vosper’s Atelier

Vosper also creates bespoke scented candles for private clients, which has seen her scent the entire Savoy Hotel for a wedding, as well as having a wealthy Russian socialite pop in and ordered 100 candles for her own nuptials in the space of ten minutes. The company was still in its infancy and “that 10 minutes pretty much saved us from going under,” Vosper remarks.

But even if you don’t happen to be betrothed to an oligarch, those looking for an enchanted scent discovery can do a lot worse than pop down to Belgravia to discover this enchanting little atelier (and its charismatic owner) for themselves.

Rachel Vosper Four-Wick CandleRachel Vosper Four-Wick Candle

by Viola Levy

Rachel Vosper is located at 69 Kinnerton Street, London SW1X 8ED.
For enquiries call 020 7235 9666 (The shop is closed on Mondays and Sundays)
Prices start from around £24 (for a refill).
Candle chandlery courses are £600 for a group of up to 6 people (champagne and refreshments included)

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