A lot of people ask us how Hitchin Lavender came to be here so we thought we’d share our story with you.
The Hunter family have been farmers for more than 5 generations and have farmed at Cadwell, the home of Hitchin Lavender, for over 100 years.
Originally descending from Scottish farmers, we arrived in Hertfordshire after Samuel Wallace relocated his family from Lanarkshire to Knebworth during the 1890s farming depression, so he could be close to London and the railway. It was one of his seven children, Alec Wallace who took over Cadwell Farm in 1901.
Following several joint ownerships and the retirement of Alec, his grandson Alec Hunter acquired the farm in 1977. Alec and his wife Zoe, have experimented with various crops and livestock over the years (even Christmas trees) but around 19 years ago, took the decision to diversify into lavender planting. Whilst this was a new venture for Cadwell Farm, it wasn’t quite the audacious plan you may imagine given the strong heritage of lavender planting in and around Hitchin dating back to the 16th century.
Alec intended for the lavender farm to be an agricultural business to sell oil at local farmer’s markets but after photos of our fields reached the local and national press, it soon became apparent that people were keen to come and see the lavender for themselves. This was really the beginning of Hitchin Lavender as it is today and, since those early days, we’ve been lucky enough to welcome tens of thousands of tourists from all over the globe through our farm gates.
From 2009, Tim (Alec and Zoe’s son) and Maria Noel, his wife, have been at the helm. Using literally just a tea urn and a table, they have helped to steer not only the farm but also the café and shop, from a small operation to a popular destination selling a huge variety of lavender related products, as well as a range of delicious homemade food.
It’s always been Tim and Maria Noel’s mission to strive towards improving their business and the experience of customers, but to also inspire community in the area. Through fundraisers for local charities, giving talks to primary schools, Brownie and Beaver troupes, as well as endeavouring to use British independent suppliers, Hitchin Lavender has always been a place for everyone to share in their success.