Founded in 1932, Norfolk Lavender has been growing lavender on the estate of HM The Queen at Sandringham (her private Norfolk country estate) since 1936 and currently hold a Roral warrant of appointment from HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Norfolk Lavender have developed all but one of the field varieties that they grow, thus giving their products unique qualities. In total the company has about 100 acres, and is England’s Premier Lavender Farm. The lavender they grow is harvested with a specially designed machine, and is the oil is then extracted using the traditional methods of steam distillation in copper stills that were built in 1874.
In addition to the lavender that is distilled, some is converted into dried flowers for pot pourri. The company also grows a very special rosemary for its high quality oil. The crop is then used in the company’s unique and world famous lavender products. In addition they welcome 150,000 visitors each year to the farm where plants and gifts are available and there are gardens to be enjoyed.
Traditionally, every Norfolk Lavender product carries the signature of the company’s founder Linn Chilvers, and the signature remains one of the company’s trademarks, still appearing on our writing paper.
Linn Chilvers was the son of a keen botanist who in 1874 started a nursery garden and florist’s business in Heacham and Hunstanton, on the North Norfolk coast. Both Linn and his father had a keen interest in lavender and grew several varieties. After his father’s death Linn continued the nursery business. He had always dreamed of growing lavender on a large scale. He knew of the failure of the lavender fields in the South of England, and as Norfolk offered good growing conditions he determined to try it on a commercial scale.
In 1932 Linn went into partnership with Francis ‘Ginger’ Dusgate who provided 6 acres of land while Linn supplied the 13,000 plants required. Three men and a boy did the planting in eighteen days for a total cost of £15.
The partnership’s first harvest was in 1933 and the brave venture attracted much publicity. One of the interested watchers was a chemist from Leicester, Mr. Avery. He told Linn that he had a recipe for a lavender perfume made for King George IV. They agreed that the partnership would use the formula, and for many years Mr. Avery came to Norfolk to mix the essences himself, until on his death the secret was purchased outright by Norfolk Lavender Ltd.
Since those days the company thrives and is still producing lavender products that Linn would have been very proud of.
Caley Mill, the headquarters of Norfolk Lavender Ltd, was originally a water mill for grinding corn. Built in the local carrstone in the 19th century, and now set in its garden of lavender, roses and herbs, it has become a distinctive Norfolk landmark. In the grounds are a National Collection of Lavenders.
Each variety or species has its own bed. There are over 100 different lavenders to see and smell and hundreds of wonderful lavender products to be found in the farm shop and online. Visit Norfolk Lavender