East Midlands Food

East Midlands Food

About apples…

Apples - but what variety are these?

Did you know that the famous Bramley cooking apple originated in Southwell in Nottinghamshire? The story is that apple pips were planted by two ladies, the Miss Brailsfords, in their garden in Easthorpe, near Southwell in 1809. Eventually one grew into a tree and bore fruit, and in 1856 the then owner of the cottage, a butcher named Matthew Bramley, was asked by a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather, if he could take a cutting from the tree to propagate it. Mr Bramley agreed on condition that any apples grown from the cutting should be known by his name. The original tree is still growing in a garden not far from the Bramley Apple pub in Church Street, Southwell. An interpretation board was unveiled in the town in 2009 to mark the 200th anniversary of the tree - and there is an annual Bramley Apple Festival in Southwell which takes place on 23 October this year. See http://www.southwellcouncil.com/events/view-450 for more details.

A number of other apple varieties also originated in the East Midlands. These include the Annie Elizabeth, possibly a seedling of a Blenheim Orange, raised by a Samuel Greatorex in Knighton near Leicester around 1857 and reputedly named after an illegitimate baby daughter; and the Barnack Orange, raised at Belvoir Castle in 1904 by the Head Gardener, Mr W.H. Divers. The village of Barnack was then in Lincolnshire and is now part of Cambridgeshire – but a rather different speciality is traditionally associated with Finedon in Northamptonshire.

Finedon Dried Apples were produced by drying apples in slow ovens and pressing them at intervals over a period of several days. An account from the Northampton County Magazine  (Vol. 5, 1932, p53) describes the process:

‘The apples were placed on trays and put into the baker’s oven some hours after the bread was withdrawn. When taken out they were carefully pressed between finger and thumb, special pains being taken not to break the skin, and were placed away to cool. The next day they were again put in the oven, again pressed, and again left to cool. This process was continued for nine or ten days; the apples in the end being pressed quite flat, being only about half-an-inch thick. If the skin should be broken the apple would be spoiled. They were then packed into boxes ready for sale. If properly prepared they would keep for months; and they were used for dessert… One of the chief vendors of Finedon dried apples in Northampton was Mr. J. Abel, who had a music depot at Northampton…’.




    Bryony September 23rd, 2010 at 8:11 am

    The Bramley Apple pub sign used to be an enormous three dimensional green apple – and was a bit of a local landmark.


    Valerie October 22nd, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    At Belgrave Hall Musem we have one old apple tree remaining in the area which was marked as an orchard on a plan of 1844.
    It is a Dumelow’s Seedling (also known as Wellington)
    “Raised by Mr Dummeller of Shakerstone, Leicestershire, who died in 1812 or 1813″
    Herefordshire Pomona 1876-85
    In 1946 H.V, Taylor wrote in ‘The apples of England’ “…the Wellington – the great and highly esteemed cooking apple of our fathers and favoured above all others by the mincemeat makers. For many years highly satisfactory trees of this variety were found in every orchard from Cornwall to Yorkshire, and men cried praises aloud annually. Yet today a bare sixty years or so have passed and the variety has almost passed out.”

    The tree is very old, hollow all the way through but still produces a few apples each year.


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A research project that looked at various aspects of food in the East Midlands, linking them with museum displays and objects in the region, and making the results available to as many people as possible in different formats.