On Henfield Common North Road you’ll find Lavender Cottage, a beautiful Grade II listed building with a fascinating history. In 1905, the building and neighbouring land was owned by Miss Ada Brown and Miss Decima Allen, who ran Violet Nurseries. This thriving business cultivated violets, carnations and lavender to be sold in the flower markets of London.
Lavender Cottage was used as the workroom for packaging and production. Women were employed and trained on site to work the land and make perfumed products.
During this period, the violet came to represent the suffrage movement, adopted by the Women’s Social and Political Union as their emblem for Women’s Rights. The suffragettes would wear violet corsages on their gowns, with blooms sourced from Henfield. Miss Allen and Miss Brown’s allegiance to the suffrage movement is evident from the 1911 government census which fails to list either as an occupant, suggesting they refused to take part as a form of protest.
The Nursery become so well known that it attracted Royal visitors Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, as well as other members of the aristocracy.