"Lavender has been valued over the centuries for its power to relax, reduce stress, induce sleep, cure ailments, arouse the senses, repel insects and provide fragrance and beauty,” says Kate Seaver. The owner of Kate's Garden (www.katesgarden.ca) in Markham, Ont., Kate is something of a lavender expert -- she holds a lavender fair each summer and has put together a booklet called Lavender Lore , from which we've excerpted here for styleathome.com. Read more about lavender's history and create tasty recipes on page 2.
Adam and Eve are said to have brought lavender from the Garden of Eden.
This aromatic herb was found in the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians,where it was used to preserve bodies and repel insects. Egyptians draped their dead in lavender soaked shrouds.
The Romans used lavender as part of their bathing rituals.
It is widely believed that the Romans first brought the herb to England.
Lavender has been consistently popular since the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, it gained the reputation of warding off the plague.
During the great plague of the 17th century, lavender was fastened to each wrist to protect the wearer against the plague, as it became widely known that glove makers, who perfumed gloves with lavender, did not contract cholera.
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, washing women were known as "lavenders" as they used lavender to wash clothes and scent drawers. They often dried laundry directly on lavender bushes.
Royal history is filled with stories of the use of lavender. Charles VI of France only slept on lavender filled pillows. Elizabeth I insisted on fresh lavender being available every day. Louis XIV bathed in Lavender water regularly. It was Queen Victoria who truly popularized this plant for both scent and medicinal purposes. English royalty may have given lavender its rank as a cosmetic herb, but it was during the Victorian era that lavender was recognized as a medicinal herb.
The first-aid kits of WWI medics contained lavender. Nurses bathed wounds of the soldiers with lavender washes. Even during WWII, lavender was part of a soldier's burn kit.