thomas andrew knight and apples

Last week wasn’t  a bad week here,  weather-wise. Several days started with mists in the river valley and as the sun warmed the air, there were some picturesque sights. On Friday we climbed up into Mortimer Forest, near Ludlow and took these pictures from High Vinnalls, with the landscape of North Herefordshire and south Shropshire laid out before us. It really is a lovely part of the world.

We attended a talk at the local history  society about the 18-19th century man of science, Thomas Andrew Knight who lived very near here. As with many of the gentleman of independent means of this period, Knight was incredibly well-connected and counted Joseph Banks amongst his associates. He conducted experiments in the cross-pollination of apple trees in the early 19th century that were referred to on page 1 of Darwin’s Origin of Species and produced the beautifully illustrated Pomona Herefordiensis, published in 1811,  which records the growing, eating and drinking qualities of  apple and pear varieties. In the same year Knight became president of the London Horticultural Society, the precursor of the Royal Horticultural Society.

We were particularly interested in one of the varieties he records, the Downton Pippin, named after Downton Castle where Knight lived and which is a  little over a mile from here. We plan to plant some apples in the new garden and a Downton Pippin is top of the list. Yesterday we visited Berrington Hall to explore the old apple varieties in the orchard there and found a fruiting specimen of the Downton Pippin. I sampled a windfall, liked it, and the order for the tree has gone in.

It’s a good time of year for drawing up new plans for the garden. Has anyone else got projects in mind for next year?


3 thoughts on “thomas andrew knight and apples

  1. What a coincidence! I’ve just been researching and tasting Wiltshire varieties in Marlborough. Did you know Tolkein is reputed to have used Sarehole Mill in Brum as his inspiration for The Shire? Your pic is more believable though.

    1. Hi there VP. I did know the SareholeMill connection although there seem to be many Tolkien stories. Good luck with the apple tree research. We have ordered 6 trees so far, including the Pippin and Herefordshire Russet.

      1. I have Herefordshire Russet in the garden – it’s an excellent new variety. As for Wiltshire’s trees, there’s 10 and I’ve tasted 7 of them. The closest variety to home hails from Melksham.

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