Orchard history

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As volunteers and supporters of the Steyning Community Orchard, we were delighted to read your article (Steyning Herald, September 23) about National Apple Day.

It was the first public event at the top corner of the Rublees area of the Memorial Playing Field. We were pleased to see the big turnout for a truly enjoyable community event.

A lot of work on the orchard has already been done clearing the undergrowth below the trees and removing dead branches.

The clearing has revealed pear, apple and cherry plum trees, some 25 in all.

There were marquees with information on the history of the Rublees area and maps showing the location of all the trees. Also on show were boxes of apples for identification.

We were intrigued by the Black Worcester pears, which possibly are Roman in origin, a type known as Wardens.

Strangely, they do not ripen and only mature when cooked. We found out about the history of the orchard from 1793 (Chequers Orchard) along Newham Lane.

By 1875, the maps still showed an outline of the orchard. It wasn’t until 1911 that the Rublees allotments were established, part of Chequers Orchard near the allotments.

In 1929 there was a copy of a bill of sale of land to build houses on Newham Lane. The orchard is still shown.

Even as late as 1985, it was Costers Nursery and Pig Farm prior to purchase by the council for the use of the whole community. The orchard boundaries are still shown on maps.

The most up-to-date maps show the South Downs National park boundary cutting through the orchard.

We enjoyed live music sets by local musicians. We had brought along two bags of apples and had them pressed into beautiful fresh apple juice. We also enjoyed tea and apple cakes.

An inaugural tree, a Golden Pippin, was planted to mark the event. It was great to see Steyning youngsters being involved enjoying the games and helping to fill the hole for the new tree.

We thoroughly enjoyed this family event demonstrating the close community cohesion we love about Steyning.

We are looking forward to the next public event, Wassail Day, on January 1, 2015.

If you would like to be involved with this new venture and hear news of ongoing events contact facebook.com/steyningcommunityorchard.

Jane Oxley and Mike Kelly

Kings Stone Avenue

Steyning

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