Twenty twenty sees the 400 anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, Devon carrying the Pilgrim Fathers to a new life across the Atlantic Ocean. Many people know that they did indeed sail from Devon on that mammoth journey but so many less folk know that their original roots were in Nottinghamshire, chiefly at the villages of Babworth and Scrooby. With three years to go before the actual anniversary preparations to mark the event have been going on in both counties and also between counties. This will hopefully, make it a major event both locally and nationally.
As part of the celebrations Devon decided to have an apple named ‘Mayflower’ after the ship the Pilgim Fathers sailed in and its development is now in progress. Obviously here in Nottinghamshire I thought it a good idea to name an apple either ‘Pilgrim or ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ so that both trees could stand together somewhere prominent in both counties.
So how do you find a suitable tree. Well, I put out a request on BBC Radio Nottingham for anyone who had a seedling apple in their garden, of any worth, to let me know. Fortunately one couple, who live in Southwell, did come forward with an offer and this apple has turned out to be so good that it is being put forward to be named after those remarkable religious pioneers.
Most notable is the fact that Southwell is a little known minster town with a great local tradition in fruit growing and the home of the original ‘Bramley Seedling’, now the country’s most famous cooking apple. What a coincidence if our new apple acquires as much fame as Mr Kipling’s favourite. There must be something special in the soil around the town when you think that only two or tree seedlings in every 100 turn out to be worth keeping.
For those who are interested, the new apple is a duel purpose type with a lovely sweet taste to the flesh under a slightly tough skin, when mature. For cooking. and unlike the ‘Bramley,’ it stays in pieces in a pie or crumble so offering a crunchy sweet feel and super taste.
We found our new apple last autumn and I have had twelve trees grafted by a local nurseryman so we now have one year old whips and tree years in order to get them to a reasonable size. One, at least, will go to Devon to grow along side ‘Mayflower’ perhaps on Plymouth Hoe the site of so much of the country’s maritime history.