English Lavender Water – History and Recipes
Martha left you her best Love; she will write to you herself in a short time; but trusting to my memory rather than her how, she has nevertheless desired me to ask you to purchase for her two bottles of Steele’s Lavender Water when you are in Town.”
Jane Austen from Steventon to Cassandra at Godmersham
14 January 1801
To the Victorians, Lavender meant “Devotion”, however, it’s symbolism and popularity stretch back to ancient times. French Lavender was most probably that referred to in classical Roman times as a bathing scent, and it is from this that the plant is said to have derived its given name from the Latin lavare, to wash. In the Middle Ages, Lavender was attributed with the properties of Love. Records indicate that Lavender wasn’t cultivated in English gardens until around 1568, it’s popularity grew rapidly, once introduced though, and it was included in the listed plants the Pilgrims brought with them to America. Since the Elizabethan era Lavender has been widely used in potpourris and sachets to fragrance and freshen linens and the home.