Tag Archives: 1919

Henry Fowler, Last of the Lavender Growers

clip from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_People_57-1, copyright London Borough of Merton.

Lavender grower who lived at Lavender House in Bond Road.

He had a stall at Covent Garden from 1882 to 1919, according to this article in the Hull Daily Mail of Monday 28 July 1919:-

Sweet Lavender.

Mr Henry Fowler, one of the largest dealers lavender in the country, who has large gardens at Mitcham, has retired from the Covent Garden stall which he has occupied for 37 years without a break. The first crop of lavender from Carshalton was cut on Saturday, and a few bunches were on sale in the streets.

After the First World War, the price of lavender had doubled, and was grown outside Mitcham, according to this article from 1920:

Mitcham Lavender Dearer.

The first cut of Mitcham lavender, which is ready for market a fortnight earlier this season, has been made by Mr Henry Fowler, of Lavender Nursery, Bond-road, Mitcham, known as the last of the growers. –

It is 1s 6d a bunch this season, which is more than double the pre-war price. The crop, though small, is in fine bloom. Most of it is grown just outside Mitcham, at Wallington and Carshalton.

From the West Sussex County Times – Saturday 17 July 1920.

In 1921 the price was five times that before the war, he said in this article from the Daily Herald of Monday 18 July 1921:

SWEET LAVENDER

Once Flourishing Trade Now Almost Extinct

For the first time in Mitcham’s history, the lavender season has opened without even a sprig of the sweet-smelling plant being on sale in the town.

“It doesn’t pay to handle it nowadays,” said Henry Fowler, well known at Covent Garden as “the last of the Mitcham lavender kings,” to DAILY HERALD representative, “although never do I remember such a figure it fetched in Garden yesterday — 20s. a bundle. Before the war I sold for 4s.!”

Mr. Fowler, who is 76, used to sell as much as 20 tons a season. All the “Mitcham lavender” (offshoots from the original Mitcham stock) is now grown at Carshalton, a neighbouring place, by a Beddington firm of market gardeners.

There are only about five acres left, but next year, Mr. Fowler said, there would be more grown. “And then I shall dabble in it again.”

Mitcham soil grows the finest lavender in the world, but the market gardeners say that other flowers and vegatables are more profitable. Moreover, all the land will soon commandeered for manufacturing purposes.

Distilling lavender is still a big trade in Mitcham, much of the plant coming from Hitchin, Worthing, and other places.

“It is the first time for 40 years I have never had lavender to sell,” were Mr. Fowler’s parting words.

A large lavender distillery was run by W.J. Bush & Co. Ltd.


Henry Fowler had been born around 1846 in Dunstable, Hertfordshire. When he was 35 he was a florist’s labourer according to the 1881 census, which shows him as living at number 6, Dixon’s Cottages (near the present day Gardeners Arms in London Road). In the 1911 census he is listed as a florist, aged 65, with his wife Anna 72, and daughter Nellie 39.

He died in 1925, as reported locally and in the West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 26 March 1925:

Mr. Henry Fowler, the “Lavender King,” hes died. For over 40 years he supplied Covent Garden market with big consignments of lavender. Since 1922 he had been out of the business.

Note that lavender is still grown in Carshalton.

News articles are from the British Newspaper Archives, which requires a subscription.

Unveiling of the Mitcham War Memorial

From the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 26th November, 1920

UNVEILING OF MITCHAM’S WAR MEMORIAL.

The war shrine, situated on the Lower Green, Mitcham, was unveiled last Sunday by Major-General Sir H. E. Watts, K.C.B., C.M.G. (formerly commanding the 7th Division and 19th Corps, B.E.F.). The weather, although very cold, was fine, and about 5,000 people were present at the unveiling.

Alderman R. M. Chart (Chairman of the War Memorial Committee) said that this shrine was to commemorate the self-sacrifice of those who made the supreme sacrifice, and show our undying sorrow felt by those who have lost dear ones in the late war. Two years ago the war terminated, and in February, 1919, a committee was formed for the purpose of raising funds for the war shrine. There was some difficulty as to the most prominent place for the shrine, and on Peace Day, when the temporary memorial was put behind the Vestry Hall, it was proposed that that should be the site for the permanent one. It is also proposed now that a fencing should be placed round the shrine, but with facilities for the public to place flowers on it, which he (Mr. R. M. Chart) was sure they would do from time to time. He also said that every effort had been made to obtain the names of men who had been killed in action or died of wounds, and, at present, there were 557 names inscribed on the shrine, and since then more had come to hand, and would be inscribed in due course. The speaker then said it was his duty and pleasure to introduce Major-General Sir H. E. Watts, K.C.B., C.M.G., who had well served his country in the late war. He was commanding in the first and third Battle of Ypres.

Major-General Sir H. E. Watts, K.C.B., C.M.G., said, after what Mr. Chart had said, there was not much more to say, but there was one incident that he would like to remind them of, and that was the late Earl Kitchener’s appeal of “Your King and Country need you,” at the beginning of the war, in which all men flocked to enlist. “Why !” because they knew that they were going to fight for freedom and endure the hardships of war, which was a fine example of self-sacrifice and unselfishness. All honour was due to them who came forward at the country’s call. The men, women and children were also a great help, for, while we soldiers were fighting, those at home endured many hardships, but without murmuring. He then unveiled the memorial, and the “Last Post” was played by buglers of the East Surrey Regiment.

The hymn, “Nearer my God to Thee,” was sung, and then the invocation and prayers were said by Rev. C. A. Finch, the Vicar of Mitcham, after which Rev. J. F. Cowley, the the Zion Congregational Church, said a few words.

Rev. J. F. Cowley said that, in doing honour to those who laid down their lives for us, there should be no mistake, for if they had not done so, no English home would be intact and safe to-day, but the unspeakable happenings in Belgium would have happened in England, and, perhaps, have been even worse, because it was against England that the Germans were so bitter and revengeful. He said we should thank God and our fallen heroes for such a merciful deliverance, and also think God for such sons, fathers, brothers and sweethearts who so cheerfully laid down their lives to save us from shame and dishonour. They must not forget to honour and thank the mothers who gave the best, they had got; and in the future, when one was in despair, they should just go to the shrine and remember what, Englishmen could and did do for their country, because they thought that, if it was worth living for, it was worth dying for. Those present then proceeded to place their floral tributes on the shrine, during which Mr. Rudyard Kipling’s “Recessional” was sung.

The Jubilee Lodge, R.A.O.B., sent a wreath in memory of fallen “Buffs.” Other lodges also sent wreaths.

The special constables were present under the command of Inspectors Webb and Freeman. Colonel Bidder, D.S.O., was present, and a detachment of ex-Service men lined up round the inside of the ropes. The music for the hymns was played by the Mitcham and Wimbledon Military Band, conducted by Mr. H. Salter.

1919 plan for Park Place by the YMCA

A letter from the YMCA to the Mitcham & Tooting Mercury in 1919 sets out their plan for Park Place.

THE MITCHAM PARK PLACE SCHEME.

To the Editor of “ The Mercury.”

Sir,

The following is a rough outline of the scheme which we hope to carry out at Park Place.

Park Place and grounds is a very large house, standing in about eleven acres of ground. There are two large meadows, a tennis court, lawns, part of which will be used as a bowling green, a large garden and orchard. In the main part of the building there are five rooms upstairs, which we hope to run as a hostel for about ten men and there is also a large room which will be used as a games room. Downstairs we have arranged for a restaurant, ’billiard room and a music room and library, and a private room for the exclusive and permanent use of the secretary of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers. To satisfy the one need of a large hall for concerts, lectures and other activities, we hope to transfer the hut in the hospital to these grounds as soon as it is not required at the hospital.

We are planning to carry out a very extensive social and sports programme, and we hope to form cricket, football, tennis, bowling, quoits and boxing clubs, to hold frequent sports meetings and to arrange billiard tournaments and to organise whist drives. We expect to be able to carry out an educational programme by arranging lectures and classes and study circles and by running a library. On Saturday afternoons and evenings in the summer, we shall try to arrange al fresco teas and concerts on the lawn, and on Sunday afternoons it is my hope that, in co-operation with the religious denominations in Mitcham, we shall be able to arrange for some sort of united religious service.

As the Mitcham Golf Course is so near we may find it possible to form a golf club. In addition to those activities, which we can arrange for ourselves, I am sure it will be possible for us to secure well-known concert parties, lecturers and demonstrations in all kinds of sport by well-known amateurs and professionals.

There will be an advisory committee formed from the members of the club and then I hope that we shall be able to form a ladies’ auxiliary committee. Mrs. Cato Worsfold, whose splendid work in connection with the hospital hut, is well known, has kindly consented to be president of this committee, and Miss Holden will be the secretary. This committee will be responsible for recruiting and organising ladies’ voluntary assistance. While on this question, I would like to throw out a strong appeal to the gentlemen of the district to associate themselves with the club and to assist us in every possible way to form the various sports clubs.

Such is the bare outline of the different activities, which we hope to carry out here. A thousand other things suggest themselves. My own feeling is that here we have a magnificent opportunity to build up a strong social and sports club, which will be the very centre of social activities in Mitcham, and in regard to sport, an organisation which can become a real power house in the realm of amateur athletics. Now, this can only lie done by utilising every ounce of local support. We must all pull the same way with the same ideals. There is no resident in Mitcham who cannot contribute in service and subscription (I put service first).

Now a word as to membership. All men over the age of sixteen years will be admitted to the buildings and grounds free. Perhaps, I may put in a word here on the position of the Mitcham branch of the Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers Federation. For the permanent and exclusive use as an office and committee room of the federation, one of the rooms downstairs has been set aside. For the ordinary activities of the scheme, members of the Federation will become members of the Red Triangle Club. The federation will be allowed the exclusive use, not more than twice a week, of one or more of the large rooms for the purposes of general meetings, Federation whist drives, small concerts, etc. The whole catering arrangements will always be in the hands of the Y.M.C.A.

Every man wishing to use the club will be given a membership ticket which will entitle him to one month’s free membership. At the expiration of this period this card may be renewed to extend over a period not exceeding twelve months. My idea is that if it proves financially possible to do so, we should endeavour to put these clubs on the same basis as the Y.M.C.A. huts. They should be open to all men at all times free of charge. Later on it may be necessary — indeed the numbers themselves may require it — for us to charge a small membership fee. The different sports clubs will, of course, have their own membership fees. This will be fixed by the members of the clubs themselves. The only regulations enforced in regard to the formation of these clubs will be those applying to the particular kind of sport and a very strict rule prohibiting any form of gambling.

Now, a word as to the admission of ladies. We would like very much to carry out a joint work for both sexes, but unfortunately our space will not permit this at the moment. I think that we can and should arrange for the ladies to join our sports clubs, especially the tennis club, and that the members of the club should be encouraged to bring their wives and lady friends to the concerts, whist drives, and the Saturday afternoon al fresco concerts and teas.

Men and women have grown to love healthy club life and if every spare shilling and every spare hour were spent in the establishment of these clubs, I am convinced that a great many of our social problems would disappear. Men and women to-day are waiting for the opportunity to serve their fellows as much as to be served.

As to the opening. The formal opening has been arranged to take place on Saturday, the 10th May. at 5.15 p.m. Dr. T. Cato Worsfold, M.P., has kindly consented to occupy the chair on this occasion. Sir Arthur K. Yapp, K.B.E., will speak on the after-war programme of the Y.M.C.A. It is hoped to secure the presence of a well known personage. On the 10th May the house and grounds will be thrown open to the public from 2.30 p.m., and teas will be served in the grounds from 3.30 p.m. at popular prices. As this will be the occasion of the formal entry of the Mitcham Branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, a demonstration will be made by ex-service men before the opening ceremony. The Secretary and members of the local branch are busy arranging a procession which will march round Mitcham headed by bands. The Y.M.C.A. extends to everyone a hearty invitation to attend this important function.

I am, yours sincerely,
Thos. B. Scotcher.
Resident Secretary.

Park Place,
Mitcham.

Source: Mitcham & Tooring Mercury, 2nd May, 1919 page 5

Will Evans

Music Hall actor, early 20th century, lived in Mitcham.

News Articles

ACTORS AT LAW

Mr. Will Evans to Pay £64 by Consent in Cinema Case.

“FORMING A SYNDICATE”

Actors were parties in an action before Mr. Justice Avory yesterday.

Plaintiff was Mr. Albert le Fre. of Upper Tulse Hill, who sued Mr. William Evans, of Mitcham, for £64 provided by the plaintiff in connection with the formation of a cinema syndicate.

In opening the case, Mr. Patrick Hastings stated that the leading feature ot the cinema films was to be Will Evans, himself.

Will Evans had a great reputation in the music hall world in performing little sketches such as “Harnessing the Horse” and “White-washing the Celling.”

Mr. Le Fre was induced to put money in the scheme, but, in point of fact, said counsel, no company was ever formed at all.

In the prospectus which was sent out it was stated: ” We hear on good authority that Mr.
Evans’ first film of ‘ Harnessing a Horse’ earned over £10,000.”

Counsel asked the jury to say that Mr Evans was responsible for that statement.

Plaintiff, in giving evidence, said he had asked Mr Evans for his money back, and Mr. Evans always said : ” The money is perfectly safe, Albert. I guarantee you any money you have put in this company.”

William Edward Evans went into the witness box. He said he was not responsible for the statement about the film “Hamessing a Horse” having earned £10,000.

Eventually the jury were withdrawn, and by consent judgment was given for the plaintiff for £64 and costs.

Source: Daily Mirror, 31st January, 1919

Postal Districts

From the minutes of
Ordinary Meeting held Tuesday, October 28th, 1919
Mitcham Urban District Council
pages 246 to 247

G.P.O. Postal Area

– Read letter from the General Post Office stating that the proposal made by the Council that the whole of the Urban District should be constituted one postal area, had been previously considered and found to be impracticable. The Clerk reported that he had replied to the Post Office Authorities, stating that the Council were convinced that if the matter were seriously taken up it would be possible to devise some scheme by which the Council’s proposal could be effected. The Council approved the reply made by the Clerk.


Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Parish Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

Holborn Military Hospital

The Holborn Union Workhouse was taken over as a Military Hospital in 1916:

From the Mitcham Advertiser, 4th August, 1916:

WOUNDED SOLDIERS FOR MITCHAM.

We understand that the War Office has taken over the Holborn Institution, Western Road, for the purpose of using it as a hospital for wounded soldiers. It is suggested that the present inmates will be transferred to the Workhouse at Belmont.

1893 OS map

From “Mitcham Histories No. 14 ‘Upper Mitcham and Western Road'” by E.N. Montague of the Merton Historical Society, page  94:

In 1919, after the last of the soldiers had left, a memorial tablet was set in the wall to the right of the main gate, and unveiled by Lady Worsfold of Hall Place. The inscription read “Holborn Military Hospital, Mitcham 1916-1919. To the glory of God and Sacred to the memory of those who gave Their lives in the Great War”, and listed the names of 22 men and one nursing sister who had died there. When what remained of the former workhouse reception building was being removed by demolition contractors in the late 1960s the memorial was salvaged by the writer, and taken into safekeeping by Merton Historical Society.

This memorial tablet is now in storage in the custody of Merton Local Studies Centre. The names that can be worked out from the photo on Merton Memories (see below) are:

Merton Memories Photos

Memorial stone
Entrance in Western Road

News Articles

From the Belfast Telegraph – Monday 09 September 1918, via the British Newspaper Archives, which requires a subscription.

NO SIGN OF THE TRACTOR.

At Marlborough Street Police Court, London, Sydney Moore (32), automobile engineer, giving an address at Manchester, was charged on remand with obtaining £150 from George Godfrey by false pretences. Godfrey, a private in a Reserve Garrison Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, at present an inmate of the Mitcham Military Hospital. It was stated that, seeing an advertisement in a daily paper headed “Urgent Work of National Importance,” he replied to it, and received an answer that if he ordered a tractor plough for land work this would be considered work of national importance, and his release from the Army could be obtained through the Ministry of National Service. He sent a cheque for £150 for a tractor, but had not received it or the return of his money, nor had he heard anything as to his being released.

The advertisement was issued by a firm in Regent Street. Evidence was given that the Ministry of National Service knew nothing of the firm and that the company’s paid-up capital was £2, its nominal capital being £5,000.
The accused was remanded.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.