We’re supporting, once again this year, Common Ground Apple Day on October 21.
It is a celebration of the British apple and aims to raise awareness of our national and local varieties and traditional orchards.
We’re celebrating the event on October 21 by making juice from the apples in our garden for diners to try throughout the autumn, which staying guests can sample at breakfast.
We’ve also been researching the history of the apple and here are a few things we’ve unearthed:
- Apples first originated in the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago and organised cultivation is thought to have been brought to Britain by the Romans who gifted plots of land to army veterans to encourage them to settle.
- The creation and cultivation of different species of apple has taken place for at least 1,000 years, with specific varieties arriving in Britain with the Normans in 1066.
- After the decimation of rural areas in the 13th century through the Plague and War of the Roses, fruiterer Richard Harris set up the first large-scale orchards, on the instructions of Henry VIII.
- During the next few hundred years, apples were sold as a luxury in London with the old English variety being the main dessert apple from its first recording in the early 13th century right up until the 18th.
- The cooking equivalent of the dessert apple was the costard, which gave rise to the term costermonger, first applied to apple salesman.
- The number of varieties exploded in the Victorian era as explorers scoured the world for new varieties and brought them back to Brogdale in Kent, expanding its orchards and forming the basis for the National Fruit Collection, which now contains more than 2,000 varieties.
- Cox’s orange pippin has been the main English variety since 1870 – Richard Cox first grew it in 1825.
- The Bramley was first introduced around 1857 – the tree belonged to Mr Bramley, a butcher. The original tree blew down in a storm in the early 1900s but a branch grew up and still survives today.