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LONDON AND LAVENDER
Lavender fields are usually regarded as exotic, and are associated with the open expanses of the South of France rather than grimy London. However, until the turn of the 20th Century the low chalk hills to the South of London along the valley of the River Wandle were a centre of lavender growing, with a trade that easily rivalled its French competitors (Lavender Hill, in Battersea, is a reminder of this trade). The trade declined, partly because lavender went somewhat out of fashion in the 20th Century, but also because the growth of suburban London meant that the land became worth more when sold for housing development.
However in recent years there has been something of a revival of simple and natural ingredients, and in 2002 Mayfield Lavender revived commercial lavender growing on a site in the London Borough of Sutton, close to Banstead. The farm had been used for lavender growing in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and had escaped being built on due to the creation of the 'Green Belt' around London after the Second World War. The farm grows two types of English Lavender, Folgate and Mailette, and a hybrid variety, Grosso; as these flower at slightly different times they ensure a continuous display from late June to late August. The farm is certified organic.
You can also visit nearby Woodmansterne, where local pub "The Woodman" is great for lunch, or a late afternoon pint; you might even get to see the local cricket team in action! (see below).
WHEN TO VISIT THE LAVENDER FIELDS
Mayfield Lavender welcomes visitors during the Summer months (usually early June to mid-September), from 10am until 5pm every day. - in 2016 the Farm will open from Monday 30th May through to Thursday 15th September.
The best period to visit, particularly for photography, is from the first week of July until the last week of August.
The fam also has shop and café, which sell products made from the organic lavender grown on the farm, as well as lavender oils and lavender plants. The shop is open during farm opening hours, and additionally during December prior to Christmas.The website also has an online shop if you are unable to visit the Lavender Fields.
Admission to the farm and fields is free. Photography is allowed, but use of the fields for commercial photography requires prior approval from the owners.
HOW TO GET THERE
Transport for London bus route 166 (West Croydon - Purley - Coulsdon Town - Banstead) passes Mayfield Lavender, alight at the 'Oaks Park' stop which is right by the entrance to the Farm. Bus 166 runs about every 20 minutes, and on Mondays-Saturdays is extended once an hour to/from Epsom.
As this is a Transport for London bus route cash fares are not available, but a valid bus & tram pass, a valid travelcard (any zones), Oyster pay-as-you-go and contactless debit/credit cards can all be used.
By train from Central London
The closest station is Woodmansterne, but for step-free access use Coulsdon Town which has lift access to street level and staff on hand to help. 'Southern' trains run directly to both stations from London Bridge at approximately half-hourly intervals (look for a "Tattenham Corner" train).
From Woodmansterne or Coulsdon Town station take bus 166 towards Banstead/Epsom (see above), alight at the 'Oaks Park' stop which is next to the Farm entrance. Both Coulsdon Town and Woodmansterne stations are in London Travelcard zone 6 and Travelcards are also valid on the 166 bus. Oyster pay-as-you-go and contactless credit/debit cards can be used for the entire journey including the bus.
Connecting services for Coulsdon South and Woodmansterne are also availbale from Victoria, and from the Thameslink Stations at St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars - take the first train to East Croydon, and change there to the Tattenham Corner service.
The 166 bus also serves West Croydon Station on the London Overground line - buses depart from nearby West Croydon Bus Station.
Another alternative is by train from Victoria to Banstead (Epsom Downs service, hourly Monday-Saturday, no Sunday service). A local taxi firm 'Home James Banstead' offer a special fare of £5.00 each way for up to four people from and to Banstead Station - call 01737 371777 to book or visit their website for details.
Mayfield Lavender is at the junction of the A2022 Croydon Lane and Carshalton Road, betwen Woodcote and Banstead - look for the two mini-roundabouts. If using a satnav, enter postcode SM7 3BE.
Car parking costs a nominal £2 and this can be redeemed against purchases in the shop.
Just ten minutes walk away along Carshalton Road, and also on the 166 bus route (alight at the Woodmansterne Post Office stop), is the Surrey village of Woodmansterne - why not combine with your visit to the Lavender? Although many London commuters have made their home here it retains its village atmosphere, and the recently-refurbished Woodman pub is great for lunch, or a late afternoon pint. If lucky, you might even catch the local Cricket Club playing an evening game on the village green opposite.