The Miller Family of Carshalton

George Miller 'Peppermint King'

By Sue Watson

Photo:Albert, Grace, George and Sydney (left to right at back) Ernest, George, Eliza and Herbert Miller (front)

Albert, Grace, George and Sydney (left to right at back) Ernest, George, Eliza and Herbert Miller (front)

Donated by Christine Miller

Photo:George and Eliza Miller on their Golden wedding anniversary

George and Eliza Miller on their Golden wedding anniversary

Donated by Christine Miller

Photo:Traction Engine

Traction Engine

Donated by Christine Miller

George Miller 1847-1922

George Miller was born on 10th December 1847 at Rawreth in Essex, one of fifteen children born to Moses Miller, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Sarah. On 13th December 1869 George married Eliza Scarfe from Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. The marriage took place at St. Pancras in London and in 1870 their first child, George James, was born. George and Eliza had another five children over the next twelve years: Herbert Charles, Ernest Scarfe, Albert Theodore, Grace Alice Eliza and Sydney Christopher.

Between 1871 and1874, George went to London in search of his fortune. His search for land led him to explore Surrey. It was by accident that the acres George and his father settled on happened to be under cultivated peppermint and lavender. The land they rented was known as Batts Farm but they resided at Mill Green Road, Beddington Corner. George and his brother James moved their families into the cottages, whilst Moses and Sarah along with six of George's siblings moved into the Old Farmhouse.

Another well-known lavender company by the name of Potter and Moore, established in 1749, was selling their business and in 1886, J&G Miller purchased part of the distillery and had it re-erected at Wood Street, Beddington Corner. In 1897, Moses passed away but the brothers carried on together and the business continued to flourish. By 1907, the firm had 12,000 acres under cultivation and was paying nearly £10,000 a year in wages. In 1908, J&G Miller were the largest growers of white peppermint in Great Britain. It was the Mitcham growers that supplied lavender to Yardley when they established the New Bond Street store in 1910, but it was around this time that the industry began to decline as cheap imports from France started to appear.

Mitcham was known for its fragrant aroma except on one occasion when George had a brush with the local authorities and was subject to a court case after he allowed rubbish to be dumped on his land near to the newly built Isolation Hospital. The smell was appalling and led to complaints by the patients and doctors. It was reported that nearby cottages were covered in flies. He ignored many warnings from health inspectors and it was not until ordered by the court that he agreed to dispose properly of the huge pile of waste that had accumulated on his land.

George Miller died on the 12th June 1922 from pneumonia and arteris aclerosis (hardening of the arteries) at Gordon Villa, Mill Green Road, Beddington Corner. George is interred at Bandon Hill Cemetery. His effects according to probate were £23,098 1s 6d. The distillery was taken over by Holland's. By this time farm land was being built on and English growers could not compete with foreign competition and it appears that Holland's concentrated on purifying imported oils. In 1934 J P Madden was the principal of the business which then specialized in 'true Mitcham peppermint oil'. The last crops were cut in 1932 and the business has now gone. Eliza Miller passed away five years after her husband George on 14th December 1927 also at Gordon Villa.

At one time the Miller family had three other farms in Kent. There was Hook Farm in Bromley, Wested Farm in Crackenhill and Court Farm Lodge in Chelsfield. Today in Chelsfield, descendants of George's eldest son, George James, grow wheat and barley as sadly the lavender did not thrive there as it once did in Beddington.

Sources Christine Miller; Bio Regional Developement Group/ Shell Better Britain Campaign (Report);; Find my; The P & E.O.R Catalogue 1934 J & G MIller

This page was added by Beverley Walker on 21/10/2010.

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