Revival of Lavender Growing in the UK
Lavender has a long history and has proved to be a valuable and adaptable plant. There are many properties of lavender that have enduring appeal, from the antiseptic and soothing (for burns and stings) to the evocative fragrance that is a common foundation ingredient in many complex perfumes. It is also suitable as a cooking ingredient and its vivid blossoming colour is a source of continuous inspiration for painters, photographers and romantics.
Lavender has had periods of intense popularity and has simultaneously been a victim of fashion swings. Having been considered old-fashioned, there is a new appreciation of the many virtues of lavender and its application to modern life.
At a time when the world is so complex and busy and people feel powerless to influence what is perceived as an increasingly commercialised and over- processed environment, lavender represents a purity and a simplicity that is tangible and understandable by everyone. Lavender is the counterbalance to alienation from the environment. It offers a visual and tangible connection to our agricultural heritage and reminds everyone that sometimes the simplest pleasures are the ones that give the most enduring enjoyment.
Lavender has also dramatically stepped out of its old-fashioned association and has found a modern status through the dynamic increase of aromatherapy in everyday life. Emotionally, lavender helps to relax and calm, thereby reducing irritability, insomnia and panic attacks. It is an astringent and moisturiser which combined with its sweet smelling fragrance makes it perfect as a fragrant beauty product. Physically, it is first-aid in a bottle with its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties, ideal for treating insect stings, cuts and burns.
From the 18th to the early 20th centuries the North Downs of Surrey, with its chalky free-draining soil, ideal for lavender growing, were at the centre of worldwide production of lavender. Blue fields could be seen all over Mitcham, Croydon, Wallington, Banstead, Carshalton and Sutton.
At beginning of 19th century the population of Mitcham was 3466. Within 50 years this had quadrupled and within 100 years what was once a quiet rural village became a modern suburb, carrying the pros and cons of metropolitan life. In the 1920s and 30s traditional lavender farmland gave way to a sharp rise in the development of residential properties. This combined with increasing cheap imports from Eastern Europe and The Far East led to the decline in lavender growing. To remain competitive the majority of lavender growers were forced to either abandon lavender farming or switch to industrial farming, making the availability of organic UK grown lavender a scarcity.
We are committed to providing a free place to visit where you are allowed to walk through the plants. We have found that our visitors respond very positively to the experience and invariably leave in a more relaxed frame of mind than when they arrived.
Our lavender is often referred to as Carshalton Lavender, Mitcham Lavender, Surrey Lavender or Banstead Lavender. In fact it is simply Mayfield Lavender grown on the North Surrey Downs! Hopefully we will be able to welcome you too.