Heath & Heather
About Us - A Century Of Heritage & Expertise
The Ryder family were true pioneers in promoting Herbs as medicines, achieving the best in natural, organic practice.
"Nothing Less than the best"
– company motto from The Famous Book of Herbs, Heath & Heather Ltd., 1955
The History of Heath & Heather
Our founder, Samuel Ryder (1858-1936), was born near Preston, Lancashire attending Owen's College in Manchester after his elder brother James. Samuel left college early and initially began work at a shipping merchant. However, the family were forever inspired by their father's passion for gardening…
During this era, it became important to grow your own food across farms, gardens and allotments. The Ryder family embraced this movement, wanting to supply seeds by post at affordable prices to the general public.
1895: Samuel Ryder moved South to St. Albans due to its good railway connections and postal services, to setup a mail order business selling seeds in ‘penny packets.'
The business, Ryder's Seeds, began from the garden shed at Samuel Ryder's home in Folly Lane. With his wife they produced a catalog which was sent out every Friday night, to be in the hands of working men by Saturday afternoon when they would be enjoying their half day holiday.
1903: The Ryder's opened a new Head Office on Holywell Hill, employing up to ninety girls to pack the seeds.
Samuel was a passionate liberal; becoming a Councillor in 1903, he continued to climb in social standing and eventually became Mayor of St Albans in 1905. He was outspoken for a "new boy" and often shocked people with bold statements about the Council's financial situation, describing it as "humiliating". He always expressed great sympathy for the poor and often invested his own money in projects for the local community.
1906: The Ryder family moved into Marlborough House, now part of St Alban's Loreto College. Faith became very important to Samuel. He was not a very strong man, with a tall and slender build, and his busy life as a businessman, politician and family man, all started to take its toll on his wellbeing. His good friend, Reverend Frank Wheeler, suggested he take up golf as exercise…
1909: Samuel Ryder joined Verulam Golf Club as his interest and skill for the sport continued to grow.
1911: The Ryder Seeds Office was replaced with a grand new building designed by local architect, Percival Blow. Messrs. Ryder & Son Ltd. quickly became regarded as one of the most remarkable seed businesses of the world – true pioneers of the horticultural market. Samuel was a caring employer and, unusually for the time, even paid wages when workers were off sick.
Samuel was elected Club Captain at Verulam Golf Club for the first time in 1911, and then again in 1926 and 1927.
1920: Samuel co-founded the herbal merchants business, Heath & Heather Limited, with his elder brother, James.
James Ryder had also studied at Owen's College in Manchester, successfully completing his studies and working as a schoolmaster, mainly in London. He then retired to study herbs and their medicinal value, eventually investing the capital required to setup Heath & Heather with its first premises on Albert Street, almost next door to the Ryder Seeds office. As the herbal remedy business continued to expand, they later moved to a large warehouse near St Alban's Railway Station.
Eventually Ryder Seeds was taken over by Suttons Seeds and the Ryder family concentrated on their new Heath & Heather ventures.
Mid-1920s: Samuel retires and leaves the Heath & Heather business to his daughter Joan, to concentrate more on his golfing.
1923: The Ryder brothers sponsored the Heath & Heather Tournament; the first golf event to be restricted to professionals only. Samuel would holiday with his family in Dorset, becoming friends with three brothers, Ernest, Charles and Reg Whitcombe, who proved to be top quality golfers. When inquiring why they never competed in the Open Championship, Samuel learnt that amateur British golfers most often could not afford to compete with Americans who dominate the sport, receiving financial backing from wealthy supporters. Samuel was spurred on by this, determined to engage amateur golf clubs in encouraging talented young British players to take up golf professionally.
1926: Samuel proposed a challenge match between US, Great Britain and Ireland on 26th June at Wentworth. Unfortunately, this first challenge was deemed an unofficial tournament when it was later realized that half of the American Team were not truly American-born (although having lived and played in the United States).
1927: The first official competition was held in Massachusetts USA, the beginnings of a biennial tournament now known as The Ryder Cup. The trophy, worth £250, was designed by Mappin & Webb Company. Samuel insisted there be a golfing figure on top of the Cup to represent his personal golf tutor and British Team player, Abe Mitchell. A keen gardener himself, Mitchell was considered one of the finest players in Great Britain to have never won an Open Championship.
1931: The Ryder family opened an Exhibition Hall in St. Albans displaying beautiful flower beds, with plants grown from their seeds.
1946: The Heath & Heather herbal remedy business grew to include 46 shops, as well as supplying various health food retailers and chemists. The Ryder brothers sold this retail business to Associated Health Foods in 1968, changing hands again, to Booker McConnell in 1970.
1971: The Heath & Heather stores were renamed ‘Holland & Barrett'.
Today, the Heath & Heather brand retains the same passion for herbs and botanicals that its family founders held back in the early 1900's.
The brand still embodies all the traditional principles of growing natural and organic ingredients; aiming to supply effective Herbal Remedies to a modern-day population who, more than ever, require natural solutions to enhance health and wellness in busy or stressful environments.
"Lack of fresh air and exercise, improper food and hastily snatched meals help to sap the vitality of large numbers of people engaged in sedentary occupations… That is where Herbs come into the picture. Grown in the fresh air and sunshine, they are full of vital properties which can be turned to good account by the human body."
~ The Famous Book of Herbal Aids to Health & Fitness, 1938, Heath & Heather Ltd.