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William Morris

Merton Abbey Mills

Surrey Iron Railway


The Calico People


Lavender and Mint



Merton Priory

De Morgan

Wandle Portrayed


Lavender and Mint


The snuff produced along the Wandle was often flavoured with herbs, many of which were grown near the Wandle.

The most famous herbs were however peppermint and lavender, both of which were deemed to be the best in the world. Cuttings were taken from these plants and planted as far afield as the U.S.A, France and Italy. But these were never as good as the Mitcham ones.

The lavender industry in the Mitcham area was at its height during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, especially with the firm of Potter and Moore whose horticultural skills and business acumen enabled cultivation to expand considerably, putting Mitcham on the map. We have some twentieth century samples of Potter and Moore products in the museum.

The crop was distilled into lavender oil or sold in bunches in the London markets or on the streets accompanied by one of the famous “Cries of London”. Another local company was John Jakson & Co., established by a French family. Their product was internationally recognised but scarcely known today.

Cultivation methods changed little over one hundred years – it was labour intensive, especially at harvest time, and the importance of the industry to Mitcham was recognised by the inclusion of lavender spikes in the former borough coat of arms. Although lavender growing on a large scale had mostly died out by the inter-war years in Mitcham, there are now lavender fields in the Carshalton area, so it is still very much a Wandle industry.

The rare variety of mint known as Black Mitcham Mint was saved by an elderly gentleman, presumably a Mitcham resident. He rescued a few plants of Mitcham mint when the fields were turned over to food crops during World War l. These plants were passed on to Jim Casson of Frith Farm, near Basingstoke. Jim was able to propagate enough plants to fill a field. Jim’s crop covered 100 acres and is probably the only original English mint crop grown anywhere. Today Black Mitcham Mint is grown in other parts of the UK and the World but nothing compares to the original Mitcham plants. The mint oil is used by the perfume industry and to flavour superior mint chocolates.