This is Salsify, also called "Purple Goat's-Beard" (which makes sense if you look at the spiky bits around the petals, although these don't show up well in my photo).
It's also (apparently) called "Go to bed at noon", but the first element sounds awfully like a Mondegreen, on "goat's-beard", one which has evolved into a folk-name for the plant.
I found these beauties today in Milton Keynes, on a verge. Milton Keynes is good for wildflowers, because there are many quite
extensive flower habitats, and lots of green space managed in a thoughtful
Although I'm good(ish) on British wildflowers I didn't know what this was until looking it up, but I instantly thought it was very striking and elegant. Some of the sources I looked at said it flowers in June: but here we are, not halfway through May, and a plant from the south is blooming early.
Salsify is a foreigner, that has made its way up from the
Mediterranean, with the help of kitchen-gardeners and cooks. The root is
claimed to taste like oysters. For recipes see
This plant was written about by Pliny the Elder (who died as a result of the eruption that smothered Pompeii) and described by Dioscorides as good for some of the internal organs.
These flowers were so beautiful I would never think of digging up the roots.