Some 50 different cookers and eaters were on display to taste and buy, representing a mere half of the varieties grown in the nearby Stow Hall Garden.
“We have a big apple day at the orchard in the walled garden every two years, but this is the first time we’ve had a smaller event at Church Farm,” said the Stow Estate Trust’s Lady Rose Hare, who spends a lot of time working in the two-acre garden.
“People are often surprised at the number of varieties but apple growing is a world of its own and I’ve become more and more interested as the years have gone by. We are in contact with apple experts who have made graftings from our original trees which I wholeheartedly support. Old trees are still being discovered – even ones that were thought to be extinct.”
As well as sampling the fruit and sipping freshly-pressed apple juice, visitors were also fascinated to learn a little of the history behind the varieties and it was noted the entire stock of St Edmund’s, a type of russet, were sold to make apple pies for the harvest supper at St Edmund’s Church, Downham. Quite a few St Magdalen apples were bought by a woman who used to live in the village of the same name.
“The original tree was grown from a pip and found on a rubbish tip in the village, and many apples are named after churches and villages in the area,” said Lady Hare whose personal favourite is the pip Pitmaston pine apple, described as “small delicious and quite aromatic”.
The weekend raised more than £500 for The Holy Trinity Church pew fund and there are plans for a similar event in two years’ time.
Meanwhile the next Stow Hall Garden Apple Day will be on Sunday, October 6, 2013.
Head gardener Justin Gary at the apple tasting weekend.