Hotelier Charles Joseph Pagliano was born in 1798, either in the fishing village of Bergamotto di Positano on the Amalfi coast, or possibly in London. By 1805, his father John Baptist Pagliano was managing Newtons Hotel at no. 34/5 St Martin’s Street, Soho (previous home of Isaac Newton and later of Charles Burney). Some fifteen years later, he was proprietor of the imposing Sablonière Hotel, Leicester Square. He ran the business until the early 1830s when Charles Joseph took over (later in partnership with Philip Nind).
John Baptist retired to the affluent surroundings of Brook Green, Hammersmith & Fulham. Charles Joseph married Mary Floris, the daughter of Juan Famenias Floris, the Menorca-born founder of the Floris fragrance company which still operates from its original premises at no. 89 Jermyn Street, Mayfair. The mahogany counter used in the store was purchased from the Great Exhibition in 1851 and in one of its cabinets still sit the portraits of Mary and Charles Joseph.
The hotel (demolished in 1869) played a key part in Italian social life in the capital and was often the first port of call for Italian visitors. It was here that political refugee Giuseppe Mazzini hired a room on his arrival in London from Switzerland. From 1821 to 1839, Venice-born composer Domenico Dragonetti made the hotel his home. Here took place the inaugural meeting of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) with Pagliano, a committed Catholic, as its first President from 1844 to 1852.
The partnership between Pagliano and Nind was dissolved in 1845 when the former retired. Nind continued the business. Charles Joseph died in 1861. Recently, his name was remembered during preparations made for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Floris produced a citrus-infused scent to mark the Royal occasion, inspired by Bergamotto di Positan, and created in honour of Charles Joseph Pagliano.