C. K. Denny, a highly skilled London perfumer, and his family arrived in Tasmania in 1921. In 1922 lavender seeds from the French Alps were planted at North Lilydale, not far from the present site. Such was the specialised and demanding nature of the project that it took 43 years before the Estate’s management was satisfied that problems of economic efficiency and rigorous quality control had been solved.
Nowadays, Bridestowe Estate is internationally renowned for its technical and botanical research. Years of selection and continuous improvement have been rewarded with the finest strains of the true French Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Pure lavender oil from the Estate’s distillery is now exported worldwide and is highly prized by leading perfume houses and aromatherapists alike.
Mr and Mrs C K Denny arrived from England with their two young sons, great plans and a bag of lavender seeds to settle at North Lilydale, some 17 kms from the present site, in 1921. The Lavender plantation they established was named Bridestowe, after Mrs Denny’s birthplace in Devon, England. The seeds were of the true French perfumery lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, which occurs naturally at high altitudes in a small area of the Southern French Alps.
World production of the true lavender oil is relatively small and is in high demand by leading perfumery, skincare and aromatherapy product manufacturers. This area of Tasmania was selected by the Denny family because of the similarities of climate, red soil and altitude to the most productive true lavender producing areas of Southern France. There were no local lavenders to cross-pollinate and corrupt the true lavender.
In 1924, a small quarter acre planting provided enough flowers for a test distillation of the oil. A sample was sent to London where it was pronounced “completely camphor free” and at least equal to good quality French oil. The Dennys then began a lifetime of plant selection from their original seed stock to isolate and cultivate those plants, which optimised both quality and yield. They enlarged their plantings and in 1947 moved their main operations to the present Nabowla site under the management of C K Denny’s two sons Tim and Jock. The Lilydale farm closed in the 1970’s. Bridestowe has been growing Lavender for 90 years with 60 years at Nabowla.
Mr Tim Denny continued to manage the Estate until 1989 when he retired to continue with consultancy in essential oil distillation. After many years, and several corporate owners, Bridestowe Estate was purchased by Robert and Jennifer Ravens in February 2007. The Ravens family remains committed to maintaining the enduring legacy and quality of product from the Estate.