These luxurious Suffolk-made candles are sold in the UK’s best hotels
PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:29 04 August 2020
After having a near-death experience, Pauline Bickerton started Loggique - her own candle company that now makes around 300 candles every day
Woodbridge resident Pauline Bickerton, has been living in the Letheringham Lodge since 2013, after moving to Suffolk to discover country-living, following years of working in the corporate world.
“My husband and I created the first digital marketing agency back in 1993, and we wrote a book called Cybermarketing. At that time, no one had heard of the internet, but we would explain to clients that there was this thing called the ‘superhighway’, and that it was going to be hugely popular,” explained Pauline.
“We were dealing with high level companies – our first client was Forte and our second was Motorola. We hired over 400 people, and I was doing the marketing, while my husband was doing the technical end of it.”
The couple – who would frequently sail around Suffolk in their free time – cast their eyes upon Letheringham Lodge some years later and immediately fell in love with it.
“We saw that building up for sale and ended up buying it in 2013. It’s a timber structure, and what we thought was a Tudor hunting lodge. We had to replace everything though – including all 27 windows.”
But after doing some further research, what Pauline and her husband had purchased wasn’t what they thought it was.
“We were told to get historians in to ascertain what the building was about, so we managed to commission Philip Aitken, Edward Martin, Joanna Martin and Leigh Alston - among the very top historians of East Anglia. They recommended that we have it dated, so we got a dendrochronologist in, who bored a tiny hole through one of the wooden beams in the lodge.”
The original listing claimed that Letheringham Lodge dated back to 1570. However, the results from the dendrochronologist showed that it was actually built around a hundred years earlier than that, making it medieval, and was in fact built by Sir John Wingfield, a member of the Privy Council of Edward IV.
“A Tudor hunting lodge, which is what we thought we had, there are around 48 of those in the country. But since this building was actually medieval, not only was it the rarest in the UK - it was probably the rarest in the world.”
Derived from the Frankish word for ‘shelter’, a logge was a building that would be used for short periods of time.
“Logges were found mostly in France. They were like pavilions, and all open-plan. You wouldn’t live in them, but they were used for banquets and weddings.”
However, as the Bickertons were busy getting to grips with the history of their new purchase, a developer had begun planning a housing estate next door to the couple – which resulted in a lengthy legal battle.
“In that period, I was very stressed, and how I dealt with stress was by lighting hundreds of candles all around my house. The senses and the smells, I was very excited to be living in this beautiful place.
“One day, I went into the bath, lit seven small candles and woke up in A&E - I’d actually poisoned myself. The candles I was using were paraffin wax, which burns at 92 degrees, and gave off horrific fumes. I’d poisoned myself with both the scent fumes and also the paraffin wax which contains benzene and toluene. I was very ill and when I came out of hospital, I set myself the task of trying to find a way of having that natural, sensual world of lit candles everywhere, while also being completely healthy, and free of toxic fumes.”
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Recovering from her near-death experience, Pauline dedicated her time to finding out how she could create candles that were luxurious, and smelt great – while at the same time being safe and non-toxic.
“I’m now highly allergic because of the poisoning, so I did masses of testing. I went and bought 400 scents, and I bought all the different waxes you could possibly get hold of. I discovered that if you use coconut wax, it burns at 52 degrees, whereas paraffin burns at 92 degrees. If you put, let’s say bergamot oil, in this candle, and it burns, it’s not burning the oil – it’s just evaporating in a light and gentle way that’s not causing acrid fumes. Also, when it’s burning, you can actually put your finger in the wax and use it as a moisturiser.”
After hours of experimentation, and successfully finding a base to create candles with, Pauline trialled her first creations - coconut wax and grapefruit essential oil candles - in Vanil, a Scandinavian-inspired shop based in Woodbridge. An instant hit, Pauline decided to upscale – but she still needed name.
“I thought, ‘well I live in a logge, and it had to be French’, so I came up with the name Loggique.”
Fast forward to present day, and Pauline now on average makes between 200 and 300 candles a day. But how exactly does she do it, and how does she consistently come up with so many scents?
“There’s this new technology that’s been out for about nine or 10 years, called living technology. What you can do is take a flower, and put a blob of silicon glue on it, and they’ve discovered that if you took that silicon glue, and put it on a mass spectrometer, you can deconstruct every chemical in it, and recreate the scent in a totally synthetic version.
“The reason why that is incredibly exciting for perfumers is that you could get not just a sense of it being jasmine, because once you distill it and cut it, you’re changing it, whereas this is the exact chemical for jasmine. Nine years ago, if I wanted oud, an unbelievably expensive scent, a bottle would be around £700 - but a synthetic bottle is around £10 or £11. Also, synthetic scents are great if you’re hypoallergenic.”
These low alleges synthetics are then blended with her favourite essential oils including Vetiver, Cedarwood and Sandalwood. Pauline then mixes heavier scents with florals to create a range of products that produce a balanced and beautiful aroma. Spending eight hours a day in her lab, she works hard to create a new scent every three months – with her Christmas range already done.
“I’m simply obsessed. I make up the scents in little tiny tubes, spray them, and I sit and smell them all day. I leave the lab at about 5pm every day, and finding the right combination of scents can take five months. If there’s an announcement of a new scent coming out, I immediately go and buy all the essential ingredients for it.”
Her most recent scent, Yuzu, is a Japanese grapefruit essential oil, that she has had in her lab for around six years - but has only just found the perfect blend for it. “Normally, I hated it, but then one day I discovered that if I mixed it with lilac, a tiny bit of neroli and a tiny bit of bergamot, it softened it. I wanted there to be a scent that makes you feel uplifted, and that the world wasn’t so bleak - it’s a real lifter of spirits. That’s the joy of constantly blending ingredients.”
Alongside selling a range of candles, diffusers, hand washes and moisturisers, Pauline works closely with some of the world’s top luxury hotels and spas to craft unique scents for them.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to say that The Savoy Hotel uses me, and I do their candle every Christmas. I also do scents for Sofitel, and Raffles. I go and join them, and then teach the clients how to make their own candles. People just love making candles. I’m also sold on the retail shelves at Milsoms’ recently-opened Kesgrave Hall Spa here in Suffolk.”
In addition, those who are looking to create their very own special scent for their big day can do just that, as Loggique is able to turn any aroma you desire into a carefully-crafted bespoke candle – perfect for wedding favours.
“Often, couples will send me a certain perfume, as they want it to be exactly like that but in a candle that won’t emit a horrible soot.”
With Loggique having taken off so much since its inception, Pauline has no plans to leave Suffolk – due in part to being so inspired by her surroundings.
“I live in this medieval lodge, and as I’m looking at the field, it’s completely covered in bay leaf and rosemary bushes which I know have been there for hundreds of years. So I’m taking local plants and extracts, and putting them in these candles which people here in Suffolk are buying. It’s so lovely and circular.”
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