From the Mitcham Advertiser, 28th November, 1947
Lavender Days Recalled
DEATH OF MRS. G. E. ARMFIELD
The funeral took place at Mitcham of Mrs. Gertrude Elizabeth Armfield, aged 82, formerly a prominent resident of Mitcham, who died at Dartford.
She was a daughter of one of the best known Lords of the Manor of Mitcham, Mr. James Bridger, celebrated in Victorian times as a lavender grower and the owner of one of the “physic gardens” by which the village of Mitcham aided the medical faculty of those days. His farm spread from behind the “Swan” public house in London Road to Tooting Junction.
Lavender Avenue and Lavender Grove on the Borough Council housing estate keep the public in mind of the rural glories and industries of the past.
The late County Councillor J. D. Drewett wrote in “Old Mitcham”: “Mitcham lavender and peppermint oils had a world-wide reputation. The largest was at Messrs. Bridger’s, next to the Swan Inn, which remained in operation till the revolution in cultivation occurred in Mitcham. Smaller distilleries were at Tamworth Farm, at Beddington Corner and Sutton . . . The Manor House (near the ‘Swan’) occupied by Mr. Bridger stood well back from the road, and was always redolent of peppermint and lavender essences emanating from the still-rooms actually inside the house. It was the stopping place for coaches to Epsom races and horses were changed there.”
LOVE AND LAVENDER
Opposite the Manor House was “The Chestnuts”, the residence of the Armfield family, one of the many well-to-do families that found pleasure in living in the Mitcham of half a century and more ago. “The Chestnuts,” now a block of flats at the corner of Locks Lane, was then a mansion of Georgian type completely isolated in its own extensive grounds, and Locks Lane, a real lane, bounded the southern side of the grounds. Graham Road and all about there was a part of the estate.
Miss Bridger and Mr. Frederick Armfield fell in love and soon after their marriage they left this district. In June, 1908. Mr. Armfield died at the age of 47. He was buried in Mitcham Parish churchyard.
GIFT TO PARISH CHURCH
In 1937 Mrs. Armfield visited Mitcham to present to the vicar (then the Rev. C. Aubrey Finch) a silver communion cup and paten for use in the church. It was inscribed, “In memory of the Bridger and Armfield families, June, 1937.” Both families were ardent supporters of the Parish Church. Mr. Bridger was one of the wardens for many years. The funeral service for Mrs. Armfield was conducted by the Rev. G. Lubbock, Vicar of Mitcham.
The Chestnuts is at what became known as Renshaws Corner.
In the Index of Wills and Administrations of 26th March 1947, she left £1,905 9s. 2d. to Dorothy Kathleen Atlee, spinster. In 2015 values, this amount is around £75,000.