Tudors: Perfumed Pomanders

Part of Bucks County Museum is a Tudor House. The Tudors always very hygienic and so Tudor life could be very whiffy!

Tudors had some interesting ideas about illness and germs. One thing they believed was that germs could be spread by bad smells. They thought that if they could mask these bad smells with pleasant ones, they wouldn’t become ill. Therefore, people would carry sweet-smelling objects with them or on their clothing. This might be a nosegay (small bunch of flowers), a lavender bag (a pouch filed with flower petals), or a pomander. A pomander was a clove-studded, dried spiced orange. Rich people might have a carved wooden pomander or may have been lucky enough to afford a jewellery pomander to be filled with scented wax beads.

Make your own simple pomander at home

You will need:
  • An orange
  • Some ribbon
  • Cloves (lots)
  • Mixed powdered spice (or a mixture of any aromatic spices of your choice, such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger)
  • Orris root (if you can get it, mix this in with the spices and it will help to preserve the orange)
  • Toothpick or small skewer
  • Brown paper bag


How to make your Pomander

  1. Take your orange and draw lines to section your orange into quarters. (This is where your ribbon will go later so don’t decorate on or near these lines)


2. Use a toothpick to make small holes ready to stud your cloves


3. Press cloves into the orange skin to make decorative patterns in each section


4. Once your design is finished mix your spices and add them to a bag or bowl


5. Place your orange in the spices and let it sit for at least two weeks, turning it to ensure it is all covered and checking for mould. Leaving for longer will result in a stronger fragrance. You can also dry your orange out in a very low oven. It will take overnight or longer. Ask a parent/guardian to do this.


6. You will notice that as your orange dries out, it will shrink and the cloves may become wobbly and will need pressing back in


7. When you are ready you can take your orange out and tie your ribbon around it, making a loop to hang it from at the top


8. Now your pomander can be hung somewhere to freshen the air!


Please ensure all activities are supervised by an adult. 

Upload photos of your Pomanders to our Instagram and Facebook account with the #TudorPomander and we’ll find it. Does it smell nice?

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