Quantock Hills Blog

Quantock Apple Heritage Day attracts large crowd

- Prof. Peter Coates writes about appley goings on at Fyne Court

Prof. Peter Coates

Posted by Prof. Peter Coates on 22 October 2013

Quantock Apple Heritage Day attracts large crowd 21 October was National Apple Day. The first Apple Day event was held in 1990 at Covent Garden, organized by Common Ground, the Dorset-based organization that celebrates local distinctiveness and activities that promote a sense of place. Since then, the number of events associated with what is effectively Britain’s national fruit has steadily proliferated, with a cornucopia of events occurring the length and breadth of the country between 19 and 26 October.

With funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC),  researchers in the Department of Historical Studies at Bristol University (the local university for the Quantock Hills area!) entered into an additional phase of their collaboration with the AONB Service -  now into its fourth year. (It all began with an e-mail to Chris Edwards back in 2009.) This financial support allowed us to make our own distinctive contribution to Apple Day on Saturday 19 October at Fyne Court.

I got the idea for what grew into Quantock Apple Heritage Day when I found out about the opportunity to apply for follow-on funding to facilitate further dissemination of the findings of our recent Orchard Mapping Project.  ‘Fallen Fruits: Mapping the Disappearing Orchard Landscape of the Quantock Hills’ has received funding from three sources - AHRC, the Quantock Hills Sustainable Development Fund and the Lady Emily Smyth Agricultural Research Station (LESARS) bequest for horticultural research (which is administered by Bristol University’s School of Biological Sciences).  Working closely with Iain Porter, Dr Marianna Dudley and Dr Nick Nourse identified and scrutinized data derived from aerial photographs, Ordnance Survey maps and digitized tithe maps and related records. They deployed this evidence to create a graphic visual representation of the former significance of orchard cover as a landscape ingredient in the Quantock foothills - an area of the county not usually considered part of Somerset’s ‘cider country’.
Saturday’s five-hour event attracted over 600 visitors, which is particularly impressive since it threatened to rain for much of the day (and when it did actually rain, it was mercifully short, just half an hour, and it was already mid-afternoon).  As well as apple pressing and apple juice and cider sales (not to mention a wildly popular hog roast, chocolate fountain, story-telling and various other activities for children), we provided an apple identification service courtesy of Liz Copas, the National Association of Cider Makers’ Orcharding Advisor and Field Trial Officer, and author of the definitive guide, A Somerset Pomona: The Cider Apples of Somerset. Les Davies (MBE), the authority on West Country apples and orchards, and all things rural, was also on hand to field inquiries. The queue for Liz and Les stretched around the proverbial block and didn’t seem to get any shorter until mid-afternoon.

At the core of Saturday’s event were a series of poetic performances, which were recorded by ‘Alice’, the outside broadcast vehicle of 10Radio, the community radio station based in nearby Wiveliscombe. The poets who signed up with enthusiasm for Apple Heritage Day were James Crowden, Ralph Hoyte, Pete Stevenson and Deryn Rees-Jones. Deryn came down from Liverpool, and her participation was arranged by my Bristol colleague, Professor Ralph Pite of the English Department. These four poets delivered their specially commissioned, apple, orchard and Quantocks-themed poems in a variety of styles and in various indoor and outdoor settings.

Another feature that set our Quantock Apple Heritage Day apart from other apple days around Britain was a memory-gathering exercise that tapped into local residents’ apple and orchard recollections and reminiscences. This side of the operation was very ably staffed by two volunteers from the History Department’s MA unit in Public History (Sara Davis and Heather Hammer - both of whom are American and recently arrived in Bristol). Marianna and Nick were drafted in when back up was needed, wielding a microphone in one hand and a swine burger in the other.
A very handsome exhibit in Fyne Court’s Music Room displayed the aims, methodologies and findings of ‘Fallen Fruits’, and I hope that these six large boards will see plenty of re-use. The activities of the ‘Fallen Fruits’ team included two intrepid and hugely enjoyable Orchard Hunts: firstly (back in late April) to perform a reality check on remnants of historic orchards, and then, a few weeks ago (on another gloriously sunny day), to gather apples for identification purposes (assisted by Shannon Smith of Horfield Organic Community Orchard, in Bristol, which held its own Apple Day on Sunday 20th October).
From a small seed, a mighty apple tree has grown over the course of the past eight months. A major contributor to the event’s success was our ability, through AHRC funding, not only to pay for poetry but to procure the services of an experienced local event organizer, Rachel Kelly, whose extensive local knowledge and range of contacts were indispensible to the project’s effectiveness - and increasingly ambitious scale. Rachel ensured that we received extensive coverage in the local media, including Exmoor Magazine, the Western Daily Press, Country Gardener and BBC Radio Somerset. Georgie Grant of the AONB Service played a key role too. I’m also grateful to former senior ranger Tim Russell and to Volunteer Coordinator Nichola Penn for accompanying us on our two Orchard Hunts and making sure we didn’t get lost (or into trouble).

Quantock Apple Heritage Day is a vivid example of the ethos of connected communities, on which the Arts and Humanities Research Council places so much emphasis, and gives real meaning to modish buzzwords such as co-design, co-production and co-delivery of knowledge. The AHRC’s Gail Lambourne and Alex Pryce joined us at Fyne Court and Alex is making a podcast about the event and the project that inspired it.


Peter Coates is Professor of American and Enivronmental History in the Department for Historical Studies at the University of Bristol.

Pete Stevenson with James CrowdenCyder bookApples

Comments in chronological order (Total 1 comments)

Add your comment

  • No avatar available
    Bruce Nottrodt

    04 Dec 13

    This was a useful and fascinating piece of research which I would love to see extended into the parts of the parishes not inside the AONB.
    Sadly I missed the apple day event but would be pleased to see these repeated in the future.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Stay in the loop

Annual Reports

View Annual reports from the Quantock AONB Service

Greater Quantock Landscape Development Fund

The Quantock Hills AONB Service now has a Greater Quantock Landscape Development Fund providing grants of up to £20,000 to local communities, farmers, landowners and individuals. The fund has been provided by EDF Energy and is part of the mitigation measures associated with the Hinkley Point C development.

Information leaflets

Find out more about the geology of the Quantock Hills AONB, why the heathland is so important for birds, the red deer on the Quantocks and why the history of the landscape is so special.

Other organisations and activities in the Quantocks

A few things you might find interesting from organisations we work with in the Quantocks

Photography Competition Entry Form

Please down load and return with your fabulous entries

Policys and Codes of Conduct

Everyone enjoys spending their time on the hills doing different activities. Below are some guidance and policy documents to ensure they are carried out safely and that wider regulations are followed.

Quantock Deer Count Results

Annual deer count results for 2010 to 2017

Quantock Hills and Planning

Downloadable documents for you to better understand the Quantock AONB and planning processes

Quantock Hills Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) Papers 2014 - 2017

Papers from the partnership committee the Joint Advisory Committee

Quantock Hills Management Plan 2014 - 2019

This is the the Quantock Hills Management Plan 2014 - 2019. It will guide work carried out to protect and enhance the Quantock Hills by the AONB team and all our partners. It has been agreed by the Secretary of State for the Environment and adopted by Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council.

Quantock Hills Visitor Guide

Quantock Hills Visitor Guide

Recreation Leaflets

a full range of leaflets from circular walks to event guides and leaflets to allow you to enjoy the best of the hills

Terms and Conditions for Quantock Hills Facebook page

Terms and Conditions for http://www.facebook.com/Quantock.hills

Tick Leaflet

Ticks are becoming more common and a bite from this spider-like parasite could lead to Lyme Disease. This is a treatable infection caused by bacterium transmitted by ticks when they bite. Not every tick carries Lyme Disease and it is important to realise that the disease is relatively rare.


Useful Contacts

Quantock AONB Service
Tel: 01823 451 884

Somerset Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01823 652 400

National Trust
Tel: 01823 451 814

Forestry Commission
Tel: 01278 732 319