4 popping purple lavender farms and fields to visit near london

Mayfield Lavender Farm, London

Photo: Mayfield Lavender

Just, *just* within the boundaries of London itself, Mayfield Lavender Farm gained Instagram fame a few years ago, not least thanks to the red phone box plonked strategically in the middle of a field.

Image: Mayfield Lavender

The 25 acre farm is a sea of purple, enticing visitors to walk through it, as if in a purple-tinged dream. It gets very busy at weekends — visit on a weekday if possible. There’s a cafe and shop on site.

Image: Mayfield Lavender

Photography among the lavender is encouraged (there’s even an official competition every year), but if you’re taking part in a professional or extensive photoshoot, you’ll need to register and pay a fee.

Open to the public: 1 June-1 September 2019. Lavender is expected to bloom from the end of June, but check before you travel. Entry is £2.50 per adult.

Mayfield Lavender Farm, 1 Carshalton Lane, Banstead, SM7 3JA

The farm also has a nursery and farm shop based in Epsom which is open all year round

Film poster for the Lavender Hill Mob

The street is known in popular culture thanks to the BAFTA Award-winning 1951 Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob. The film was so-named because the lead character, Henry Holland, lives in a seedy boarding house on the street, the ‘Balmoral Private Hotel’ where he and fellow resident (and foundry owner) Alfred Pendlebury meet and hatch the ‘perfect’ plot to steal a load of gold bullion.

Lavender Hill is featured with a chapter of its own in the historical novel London by Edward Rutherfurd, with descriptions of it in the 18th century from the pre-industrial era.

Lavender Hill featured as a site location for many British TV shows, including On the Buses and The Sweeney, in the 1970s.

In 1967 the English group The Kinks recorded a whimsical song entitled «Lavender Hill» which may have been under consideration as a follow-up single to Waterloo Sunset, but was rejected in favour of Autumn Almanac. The song was eventually released in the U.S. in 1973 on The Great Lost Kinks Album, and has been described as «a southerner’s counterpoint to the Beatles’ Penny Lane», despite the fact that the Kinks hailed from North London.

Notable former inhabitant include Sarah, Duchess of York, who lived in a flat in Lavender Gardens before her marriage. The first black Mayor in London, John Archer, was elected at Battersea Town Hall in 1913 after serving as a councillor for the Battersea Latchmere ward, north of Lavender Hill.

Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm, Alton, Hampshire

Photo: The Lavender Fields

For a grand day out in the opposite direction, head to the Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm. Visiting the lavender itself is restricted to just four open days this year, when you can stroll through the seven varieties of lavender being grown, as well as a wild flower field. Entry is £4 (under 12s £1), with talks and tours about the lavender, plus tractor rides.

The rest of the time, the lavender shop is open to the public, but there’s no access to the fields.

Open to the public: open days on 6, 7, 13 and 14 July

Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm, Selborne Road, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3HP

Hitchin Lavender, Hertfordshire

Hitchin Lavender. Image: Shutterstock

If you want to know what 25 miles of lavender rows looks like, head to Hertfordshire and wander around in the Hitchin Lavender fields — you can even pick your own to take home.

There’s a £6 entry fee (£3 for kids), which includes access to the fields, and a bag to fill with lavender to take home. Extra bags are available at an extra cost, and once you’ve worked up a sweat, lunches, cakes and drinks are available to buy in the cafe in the 17th century barn. You’re also welcome to bring your own picnic.

There’s also a small museum on site, with a replica of the Perks & Llewellyn pharmacy, well-known in the 19th century for its lavender products. Events take place throughout the summer, including open air cinema, yoga, beekeeping and meditation.

Hitchin Lavender. Image: Shutterstock

If you can tear your eyes away from the lavender for a minute or two, the hillside location of the farm means it offers views all over the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire countryside.

Open to the public: From 27 May 2019, with lavender in flower from mid-June.

Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hertfordshire, SG5 3UA

The Hop Shop and Castle Farm Lavender, Kent

Photo: Londonist

If you’ve taken the train between Orpington and Sevenoaks during lavender season, you’ll have seen the bright purple fields right next to the railway. They’re part of the extensive Castle Farm empire — the largest producer of lavender in the UK.

The farm’s 1,100 acres are spread all over this part of Kent, but the activity all takes place at The Hop Shop near Shoreham. It’s free to visit, but to access the lavender fields, you need to take a paid guided tour with one of the staff. The tour lasts about an hour, and teaches about the different types of lavender and how they’re grown and distilled — and yes, there’s a chance to take photos too.

Photo: Laura Reynolds

Access to the lavender fields is only via guided tour, although there is a small viewing area next to the car park that you can visit for free.

Other events run through the lavender seasons, including lavender picnics, and photography evenings — and we thoroughly recommend sampling the lavender ice cream available in the farm shop. A plethora of other lavender products are available, along with regular farm shop fodder.

Open to the public: The Hop Shop farm shop is open all year, but access to other parts of the farm is only available in lavender season, late June-late July.

The Hop Shop at Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB

Ways to change your AirsEdit

  • Play a part in Life on Ladybones Road.
  • Deal with Business on Watchmaker’s Hill.
  • Rob A cavalry officer in Spite.
  • Opportunism in Spite
  • Working for the Widow in Spite
  • Dabble in the Great Game in Veilgarden, or with low stats, Chat to a Tipsy Spy on The Singing Mandrake.
  • Seek the pleasures and risks of the Honey-Dens of Veilgarden.
  • Duelling the Black Ribbon in Wolfstack Docks.
  • Hunting Dangerous Prey in Wolfstack Docks.
  • If you’re at Wounds 2 or higher, spend time in bed

    A dreamless sleep will always set your Airs to 0.

    .

  • If you’re a PoSI, take care of Unfinished Business in Ladybones Road, Spite, Watchmaker’s Hill or Veilgarden.

Transport

One of Lavender Hill’s cycle hire docking points, in front of the Church of the Ascension

Lavender Hill has a Public transport accessibility level of 5 along most of its length, rising to the highest level of 6b at its westen end, indicating a high density of public transport.

Transport at the western end of Lavender Hill is dominated by Clapham Junction railway station, one of the busiest in Europe. The eastern end is an approximately ten-minute walk from several smaller stations, notably Wandsworth Road railway station, Clapham Common Underground station and Queenstown Road railway station.

In the 1890s Lavender Hill was developed as a major tram route, with tram route 26 running along Lavender Hill on the way from Kew Bridge to London Bridge, and route 28 running from Harrow Road to Victoria. The tram lines were removed in the early 1950s and replaced by several bus services (currently including the , and buses). These services still follow the same route between Wandsworth and Vauxhall, and Lavender Hill has an eastbound bus lane along much of its length.

There are three Santander Cycles public cycle hire docking stations on or close to Lavender Hill (on Dorothy Road at the western end, on Lavender Hill itself close to the junction with Sugden Road, and on Ashley Crescent at the eastern end).

On 10 August 2017, a bus left the road and collided with a shopfront on the street, injuring 10 people. The driver was described as having lost consciousness at the time of the crash.

Contemporary

Grand commercial architecture at Arding and Hobbs department store (now Debenhams)

More modestly designed shops in the central section, many of which have since been converted to restaurants and cafes

Retail

Lavender Hill is now principally a shopping and restaurant street along much of its length, with around 200 retail units in total. The Lavender Hill Traders’ Association runs the annual Lavender Festival, to raise the profile of the street as a shopping and entertainment destination.

The western end of the street has the highest footfall, due to large commuter flows towards Clapham Junction station. Its architecture is dominated by the landmark Arding & Hobbs building (the greater part of which is still a department store, now Debenhams), a number of restaurants and cafes (including a branch of Pizza Express with decoration loosely themed on The Lavender Hill Mob). There is a large Asda supermarket with an underground car park, and a branch of Whole Foods Market. This section also includes the Battersea central Post Office and telephone exchange, and the Grade II listed Battersea Reference Library.

The flatter central section of the road, at the top of the hill, includes approximately 15 estate agents (including Courtenay, Winkworth and Foxtons), as well as Lavender Hill police station (the main police station for the Battersea area) and the Battersea Arts Centre. There is a concentration of restaurants and bars along the central section.

The eastern end of the street is anchored by smaller branches of Sainsbury’s and Tesco at the crossroads with Queenstown Road. It includes a wide variety of restaurants and bars, helped by wide pavements that provide outdoor seating. There are also clusters of shops from sectors including cycling, music equipment, interior design, decorators merchants, and contemporary furniture. This section of the road is dominated by independent businesses with relatively few national operators (with the exception of a few cafes such as Caffè Nero).

In 2011, Wandsworth Borough Council completed the first phase of the Clapham Junction Exemplar project, which extensively de-cluttered and upgraded the streetscape of the western part of Lavender Hill to make it a more attractive and welcoming retail environment. This included widening of pavements, new street lighting, safer pedestrian crossings, and extensive use of granite paving.

Business

Although primarily residential, Lavender Hill includes significant office space, notably at the Battersea Business Centre, which provides workspace for around 140 businesses in a converted Victorian paper mill at 99-109 Lavender Hill.

The area around Lavender Hill included a small proportion of industrial land use (including the area now occupied by the Asda supermarket which was originally a rail yard). Some small sites continued into the early 2000s (with manufacturers such as Rotoplas precision engineering on Stormont Road); however, almost all industrial land has been converted to residential development as the area has gentrified.

Residential

Lavender Hill’s more residential past is still visible: here, a house is sandwiched between a bar and an estate agent

Lavender Hill is in the centre of a high density middle class residential neighbourhood, of predominantly Victorian architecture, including the large Shaftesbury Park Estate.

There is a Travelodge hotel on Falcon Lane close to the western end of Lavender Hill, and a new Premier Inn has been constructed near the eastern end of Lavender Hill (in a former Temperance Hall at the junction with Wandsworth Road).

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