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Reviving the Old Apple and Pear Varieties in the Southern Marches.

Pear Arlington Squash from The Herefordshire Pomona.



18th Century Apples, Pears and Peaches

The following list is a selection of apples, pears and peaches raised before or by the 18th century. Many old varieties were not actually distributed within Britain until much later than their date of origin so they have been excluded from the list. For example Blenheim Orange, which was raised in 1740 but was not distributed until about 1818, has been excluded as it would not have been available to nurserymen supplying young trees. A number of apples raised by Sir Thomas Andrew Knight, of Downton Castle, near Ludlow, became popular in the orchards of Herefordshire, but as they were raised from about 1800 they are just outside the time period. Many of them would have been added to 18th century orchards in later years.

This list is based on various books in MAN’s Library and checked through early correspondence with people who have had quests to plant fruit trees contemporary with the age of their properties. The lists are intended to provide

1) A representation of the range of varieties likely to have been grown in England in the 18th century, with preference given to those local to Herefordshire and the adjacent counties.

2) Quality of the fruit, that is, varieties worth growing for looks and/or flavour.

3) A collection which will provide dessert and culinary fruit over as long a season as possible, which was the aim of the orchard owners.

4) Availability now from Nurseries.

Whereas in recent times, the attempts to classify apples has resulted in seven or eight general groups, earlier records use terms such as permains, codlins, pippins, costards, reinettes and russets or russetings. Leathercoates are also mentioned which, today, are included in the russet group.

The apple list includes representatives of these types and have listed the varieties in order of season of use, and whether dessert, cooker or dual purpose, with approximate date of origin also included. To be consistent, for apples, dates of origin and dates of introduction to Great Britain are taken from the National Apple Register of the United Kingdom, by Muriel Smith.

APPLES

Devonshire Quarrenden. Second early dessert. Season late August to early Sept. Small but good flavour. Origin uncertain but mentioned as early as 1678. Limited availability.

Pomeroy of Hereford. Second early dessert. Sweet soft flesh. Season September to mid October. “Flesh yellowish, tender, juicy, sweet and richly flavoured.” (Herefordshire Pomona). Thought to be very old. Limited availability.

Keswick Codlin. Second early cooker. Codlins cook to a froth. Season late Sept-Oct. Introduced about 1790 by a Keswick nurseryman, John Sander. Limited availability.

Dr Harvey (Harvey) Mid season cooker. Can also be eaten as dessert and needs no sugar when cooked. One of the oldest English cooking apples. Season late September to January.Mentioned in 1629 by Parkinson. Limited availability.

Pitmaston Pine Apple. Late dessert. Intensely flavoured, sweet yet sharp. Season late October to December. Raised c. 1785, by Mr White, steward to Lord Foley at Stoke Edith, Herefordshire.

Warner’s King. (Originally known as King Apple) Late cooker. Season late September to December. Known since end of 1700s.

Ribston Pippin. Highly prized late dessert. Season October to November. Discovered at Ribston Hall, Yorkshire, and thought to have grown from seed brought from Rouen in 1688. Available.

Catshead. Late cooker. Season October to January. Known in England 1600s. “Well known by 18th century and conveniently box-shaped for parcelling up into dumplings for farmers to take out to fields.”

Herefordshire Beefing. Late cooker.Season October to January. Probably dates from the late 18th century. Limited availability.

Golden Harvey. Late dessert and cider. An intensely flavoured old variety. Also known as the Brandy Apple. It may be the apple called Round Russet Harvey of the 1600s which arose in Herefordshire. Popular Victorian apple but “cast aside in 1890s as too small”. Limited availability.

Ashmead’s Kernel. Late dessert, and considered to be one of the highest quality desserts available. Season December to February. Raised in Gloucester about 1700 by Dr Ashmead. Available.

Wheeler’s Russet. Season January to March/April. Known in 1717.

Lemon Pippin. Late cooker but also dual purpose. Said to be excellent for drying. Season October to January/March. Known before 1700.

Nonpareil. Late dessert. Season December to March. Prized for 18th century dessert. Recorded in 1696 but possibly introduced in mid 1500s. Limited availability.

PEARS

All the pears are dessert, unless said to be cooking pears. Quotes are abstracted from Pears, by Jim Arbury & Sally Pinhey.

Early Season

Doyenné d’Été. Raised by the Capucin Monks at Mons probably about 1700. “The earliest ripening pear grown and this is its chief virtue. Season mid July to early August. Sweet, with little flavour.”

Jargonelle. “Origin uncertain, one of the most ancient pears in cultivation first mentioned by Parkinson in 1629 but possibly much older. Season mid to late August. Tender and juicy, slight musky flavour.”

Williams’ Bon-Chrétiene. Raised in 1770, near Reading, by Dr John Stair and introduced by Williams, a nurseryman. Season mid to late September. Sweet, juicy, with a musky flavour.

Mid Season:-

Louise Bonne of Jersey. Raised about 1788 in Avanches. Season October. Bears well. Delicious. (Network Co-ordinator Sheila Leitch has one which is over 100 years old and is still bearing well).

Doyenné Blanc. “A very old cultivar of uncertain origin, possibly Italian and first recorded in the 17th century.” Season October. Good flavour.

Napoleon. Raised in 1806 and sent to this country in 1816. It became popular and may well have been added to existing orchards. A valuable dessert pear. Season November to December.

Swan’s Egg. Very old pear, with very little known of its history. MAN has a record of it being ordered from a Midlands nursery in 180??, for planting in Radnorshire. Season October. Bears well, though fruit rather small.

Bergamotte d’Automne. “Origin uncertain, but one of the oldest pears in cultivation.” Season October to November. Rich aromatic flavour.

Late Season

Uvedale’s St Germain. Raised about 1690 in Kent. One of the Warden group of cooking pears but not as good as Catillac, Bellisime D’Hiver and Black Worcester. Season January to March. Notable for its very large size. Weight 310gm but can be 500gm or more.

Forelle. Origin uncertain, known since 1670. Season November to January. Juicy, little flavour.

Black Pear of Worcester. “Origin uncertain, but one of the oldest pears in cultivation.” Cooking pear but can be eaten. Season January to April. Weight 260gm.

Catillac. “Origin uncertain, first recorded in 1665 and one of the oldest in cultivation. Probably the best of the cooking pears.” Season January to April. A large pear. Weight 350gm.

Bellisime d’Hiver. “A very old French cultivar of uncertain origin, but first described in 1768. One of the best culinary pears.” Season January to March.

PEACHES

Grosse Mignonne. Origin unknown but Hogg’s Fruit Manual, says it has been in cultivation for upwards of two centuries. Ripe end August and beginning of September.

Tueton de Venice. Old French variety known in 1667 and grown in England in the 18th century. Ripe September. Rich melting flesh with a good vinous flavour.

La Noblesse (syn. Noblesse) Probably came to this country via the Dutch merchants trading with Britain during reign of Queen Anne and George I.

Catherine. A very old peach, cultivated in this country for two centuries, according to Hogg. Ripe end September to beginning October. Fruit large.


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