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

A Butt Pear from The Herefordshire Pomona.



The Herefordshire Pomona

A Brief History

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century there was, as there is again now, great interest in Herefordshire and in the surrounding counties in the conservation of old apple and pear varieties. There was also concern among agriculturalists about the neglected state of many Herefordshire orchards. Efforts were made to restock the orchards with 'the most esteemed kinds of British apples and pears'. A detailed compilation was made over a period of about ten years, by the Pomona Committee of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club of Hereford, of all the notable varieties of apples and pears at that time being grown in Herefordshire orchards. Year by year the Club held apple and pear exhibitions, and the most experienced and distinguished pomologists in the country were invited to inspect the samples of fruit submitted and check their identification. Among these distinguished gentlemen was Dr Robert Hogg, Vice-President of the Royal Horticultural Society, author of The Fruit Manual, a work of immense scholarship, and editor of the RHS Journal. Hogg's enthusiasm found a ready response in Dr Henry Graves Bull, Physician to Hereford Infirmary and past President and a leading member of the Woolhope Club. Between them they compiled, wrote and co-edited The Herefordshire Pomona. They were fortunate in being able to call upon the services of two talented artists, Miss Alice Blanche Ellis, and Bull's own daughter, Edith Elizabeth. Each year, for some eight years, Miss Ellis and Miss Bull painted the apples from the autumn exhibitions, so creating the art work for the Pomona. Hogg wrote the letterpress descriptions and Bull drew the fruit sections, co-ordinated the work and did the copy editing. The book was financed by subscription by the nobility and the gentry of Herefordshire and neighbouring counties.

The Pomona was issued in seven parts, at fifteen shillings for Part 1 in 1878 and twenty-one shillings for each of the remaining parts. When all seven parts were finished, they were bound together to form The Herefordshire Pomona we know today. Six hundred copies were printed with no expense spared. They are now scarce and highly sought after, fetching thousands of pounds when they come up for auction.

The Marcher Apple Network and The Herefordshire Pomona

Since the formation of the Marcher Apple Network (MAN) in 1993, its members have done much to promote an awareness of the importance of conservation of biodiversity by locating, identifying and propagating old varieties of apples and pears growing in the border counties of England and Wales. Naturally they find that they are constantly referring to the many works of reference on apples and pears, particularly those which describe and illustrate old varieties and especially those which characterise the fruit trees which have been grown and some of which are still growing in the Welsh marches. Prominent among those books is The Herefordshire Pomona, which was published just over a hundred years ago by the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club of Herefordshire.

Several members of MAN are owners of copies of the original edition of the Pomona, and other copies are available in local libraries. However, such was the quality of the original work, with beautiful art work and early colour plates printed by a chromolith process, that the surviving copies are now quite rare and very valuable - far too valuable to be constantly referred to, with all the risks of wear and tear which that inevitably entails.

With this in mind, and because the information in the Pomona is so useful and important, the committee of MAN commissioned its webmaster, and MAN life member, Richard Wheeler to produce a compact disc version which gives users easy access to the information on the fruit varieties contained in the Pomona. At the click of a mouse a full colour illustration of any variety can be called up on to the screen, together with a line drawing of a section and the description of the fruit as printed in the Pomona.

The CD The Apples and Pears of The Herefordshire Pomona consists of all the colour plates from The Herefordshire Pomona with the corresponding section drawings and descriptions of the fruits. The CD also includes text descriptions of local cider apples and perry pears and the lists of cider apples and perry pears which the Woolhope Club recommended for planting. The price is £15 plus postage and packing. An order form which can be downloaded as a Word document (15KB) or as a PDF (15KB).

System Requirements etc.

The CD The Apples and Pears of The Herefordshire Pomona is a "website on a CD" so your computer will need a CD drive. Pomona Plate 2 (part) and Winter Pomeroy are examples of a plate and the corresponding description. Provided you can read these webpages (including the pictures) you will have no problems with the CD. No additional software will need to be installed on your computer. The plates from the Pomona are quite large and so will be best viewed on a large (high resolution) screen. On smaller screens you will need to scroll to see all of each plate. The plates are also best viewed in a "deep colour" mode although they still look surprisingly good in just 256 colours.

There is a short list of Notes & Errata.


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