Rare Apple Varieties and a Wildlife Haven
Did you know that Reydon had an orchard? It is located by St Margaret's Church and its proper name is the Church Pightle; the word pightle being an old English word for a field or enclosure. The land was given to the Reydon Estates charity in the 1800s, when any income generated by the orchard was used to provide coal for the poor of Reydon at Christmas.
The orchard was re-planted between 1918 and 1920 by a soldier just returned from the Great War. The next significant replanting took place to repair the damage caused by the hurricane in 1987. The orchard was managed by local wildlife expert John Minihane until 2002 and it is now cared for by Reydon resident Peter Lupton.
Traditional orchards are a haven for wildlife. Occupying the same piece of land for centuries, often without chemical input, they are hotspots for biodiversity and often harbour old, rare and locally significant fruit varieties.
Reydon orchard scores in both of these areas.
It is managed with wildlife in mind which involves:
A moth survey was carried out in July 2010 and 30 species were found, an indication that the wildlife management practices are working.
In 2004 the orchard was visited by Martin Skipper from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project. Samples were taken away to Brogdale (home of the National Fruit Collection) and several apple varieties were formally identified. The orchard contains several apple varieties that originated in Suffolk; Lord Stradbroke, St Edmunds Russet and Sturmer Pippin.The orchard is included in two projects run by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species; the Traditional Orchard Inventory Project and Orchard Watch, a project looking at the timing of flowering.
The apple is Britain's national fruit and since 1990, October 21st has been nominated as Apple Day. There are over 2000 varieties of cooking and eating apple in Britain and hundreds more of cider making apples. Cultivated apples came to England with the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Pilgrim Fathers took apple pips and saplings to America on The Mayflower. English orchards declined during the 13th Century because of effects of The Black Death followed by long hot dry summers. Henry the VIII sent people all over the known world to acquire trees and then set up large scale orchards to revive apple growing.
Apples often feature in folk lore. The story goes that Issac Newton discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head. William Tell saved himself and his son from execution by shooting an apple perched on the top of his son's head with a crossbow. Recalling Adam and Eve, remember to take care who you share an apple with! Wassailing is a celebration that goes back to Anglo Saxon times, the purpose being to make a lot of noise and wake up the apple tree spirit to ensure a good crop for cider making.
Apples and orchards play an important role in our history and culture and it is great that we have such a wonderful old orchard here in Reydon. Visits to Reydon Orchard are by appointment only. Please contact this website if you would like to visit Reydon Orchard.
A document listing the fruit trees in Reydon Orchard and an orchard layout can be viewed here.
Some photos of apples in the orchard can be seen in this gallery.