Kathryn Plowright and the concept of Aroma Zodiac candles

Kathryn Plowright

Kathryn Plowright - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Candles created by Kathryn Plowright - she of the famous theatrical dynasty - are formulated to support the body and soul.

Aroma Zodiac candles alight

Aroma Zodiac candles alight - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Through my job, I have had the privilege to meet many wonderful people, and I have to say that my afternoon with Kathryn Plowright was one of the best experiences to date. When people say ‘oh, it was a pleasure’, never was it more true for me than on that chilly late autumn day.

Kathryn, who grew up in Alderley Edge, has had an extraordinary life. Her father, David Plowright, was the Chairman of Granada Television, the man who led the way with big TV drama with the massively successful Brideshead Revisited and The Jewel in the Crown. His sister, Dame Joan Plowright, is a renowned actress and married Sir Laurence Olivier, of course, and his brother Robert was Professor of Music at Trinity College in London.

‘My grandparents had three children and each made it into Who’s Who,’ marvels Kathryn, ‘and all for completely different reasons.’ Kathryn is close to her aunt, for whom she has a deep admiration and love. ‘I spend a lot of time with her,’ she says. ‘She’s just wonderful. I had an extraordinary childhood, but I wasn’t aware of this of course for some time! There were three things that made me realise that my life wasn’t quite the same as those of my friends at school. I recall Andre Previn conducting the singing of Christmas carols around the tree one Christmas Eve.

On another occasion we travelled by train to London and when we arrived our door was opened by Uncle Larry’s chauffeur and his huge black Daimler was on the platform. Then there was the time he took me and his son Richard to see my aunt in Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre. We arrived in his car at the theatre, he took our hands and led us into the foyer.

Twelve candles, one for each sign of the Zodiac

Twelve candles, one for each sign of the Zodiac - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

‘It was if a path opened up through the Red Sea, the people simply parted. They were pointing and talking and taking photos, flashes were going off…it was magnificent, extraordinary.’

I wonder if Kathryn had had any desire to follow in her famous relatives’ footsteps.

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‘I got my Equity card at the age of 19,’ she says, ‘I went in a touring theatre company…I was absolutely dreadful! I was so self-conscious! I was awful. I just thought I would be a natural and I was terrible. I went for one audition to the London Central School of Speech and Drama and failed to get in. So I decided to become a commercial pilot.’ As you do.

Kathryn had not long qualified when she became desperately ill, with a degenerative disease that she was told would end her life within four months – and this was the turning point that set her on a career that would make her famous in a wholly unexpected way.

Beautifully presented in glass jars

Beautifully presented in glass jars - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

‘I searched the country for a doctor who could help me,’ she says. ‘I saw every kind of –ologist there was and none could help me. One day I was in Prestbury village and spotted a card in the window of the Post Office, for an aromatherapist. I didn’t know what an aromatherapist was, but she was also advertising as a massage therapist and I thought this would help with my pain, so I booked an appointment. I told her I didn’t know what an aromatherapist was but as long as she didn’t wear cheesecloth and burn incense we’d be fine! Following my massage she explained the whole concept of aromatherapy to me, how the skin absorbs the various oils and their properties and these are taken to the places in the body where they will be of use and of benefit.

‘I thought “oh yeah, right, all the -ologists can’t help, so I don’t think so.” She then gave me a step by step breakdown of what I could expect to happen with my body over the night ahead. Everything she said would happen, happened. Not one of the medical people I had seen had ever been so precise - so I was engaged. And I got better. I got better, I believe, because I became so engaged – how much aromatherapy played a part I can’t say, but for me it saved my life. It made me believe in all aspects of complimentary medicine; I trained in homeopathy, in herbal medicine, in aromatherapy, reiki, Bach Flower Remedies…everything.’

Kathryn’s new passion led to her opening The Medicine Shop & Clinic in Alderley, with her business partner, the Marquis of Cholmondeley. It was the first of its kind in the UK, housing a clinic where complementary medicine practitioners could meet clients and a shop where people could buy everything they needed to continue their treatments.

‘I travelled the country and the world giving presentations and lectures, we were busy busy! Then one day about 20 years ago I spotted a postcard in an art gallery I felt very drawn to, with signs of the Zodiac painted on a human body. ‘Then I came across the study of medical astrology, or iatromathematics. Iatromathmatics applies the study of astrology to medicine, associating stars and zodiac signs with the functioning of the body, exploring various health problems and ways to treat certain ailments and diseases.

‘I thought it would be great to make a range of candles for different signs of the zodiac and make them a home healing range using aromatherapy essential oils. Aromatherapy is scientifically proven to be effective in stimulating parts of the brain which have a positive effect on physical emotional and mental states. The essential oils stimulate brain receptors which control blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels, memory, attention span, pleasure and motivation.

‘I researched each star sign and the medical astrology associated with it - which common ailments are key to each sign and which emotional vulnerabilities and positives each star sign generally exhibits. With this I would build a candle where instead of massage into the skin, you’re inhaling the essential oils. They can have a beneficial effect on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. I looked at all the essential oils that would help balance the negative issues and support the positive. I refined them down to between four and nine oils that were the most perfect combination for healing and that smelt the most divine.

‘Now, instead of going for an hour’s wonderful aromatherapy massage, you can have the therapy in your own home, either just going on in the background while you get on with your day, or to meditate in front of, which will enhance the benefits.’

Interestingly, when faced with a choice of two, I honed in on the Libra candle as my favourite and John, our photographer, on the Gemini – which matched our respective star signs.

Kathryn told us that when she did this test on 13 people, with the labels hidden, all bar one selected their own star sign as their preference.

Now, as a level-headed Libra, I can see exactly why some would dismiss the thinking behind these candles, but what cannot be ignored is the proven power of essential oils and the fact that they all smell utterly delicious! Make of that what you will.

AromaZodiac candles, RRP £125 kathrynplowrightcollection.com