The Memorial Playing Fields Orchard

LOCATION

The Orchard is located in the South West Corner of The Memorial Playing Fields (BN44 3LR) in the centre of Steyning, adjacent to the Rublees Allotment hedge. Access to the Orchard is via the two twittens off of Newham Lane, one is at the entrance to the allotments and the other a few hundred meters further down the road. Other access is available from entrances in Charlton Street and Mill Road.

Limited parking is available at the Cricket Club carpark adjacent to Steyning Police Station

HISTORY

Restoring Our Disappearing Orchards

Steyning had a number of orchards which have now been lost and the SCO group has been researching their history. The orchard in the Memorial Playing Field was planted by the Wood family in the 1930s.  The land was acquired by the Parish Council and incorporated into the Memorial Playing Field in 1972.  Many trees were lost and damaged in the Great Storm of 1987.

Research into the MPF Orchard area is continuing. If you have any information or photos that might show what the area once looked like, we would love to hear from you.

OUR FRUIT TREES

Apples

In addition to the new trees we are planting, there are 9 apple trees remaining from the old Orchard area.  Several of these were only uncovered during our clearing work. They vary in age from ancient (prob over 80 years old) to possible self-seeded trees only a few years old.  We have a programme of gentle pruning, and clearance of ivy and scrub, in order to give them a chance to recover and fruit.

Cherry Plums

There are many self-seeded Cherry Plums in the Orchard.    We have selectively thinned and pruned these, to leave a good selection of the many different colour forms.  They flower in April and are a great source of early nectar for foraging bees and bumblebees. The fruit makes wonderful jam!

Pears

Although there are no original pear trees remaining in the Orchard, we are planting some new ones.

Plums

There are just 2 plum trees remaining from the original Orchard. These are both in poor condition. We will try and keep these going as long as we can, but meanwhile also plant replacements.

In addition to the existing fruit trees we have added :-

The following 10 Heritage Sussex variety apples. All grafted onto MM111 vigorous rootstocks, so that the trees should grow into large traditional orchard tees with a lifespan of up to 125yrs.

Apple. Golden Pippin

The oldest known Sussex apple. Uncertain origins, but it was grown at Parham House, Storrington in 1629.    This small apple has a sweet rich tangy lemony flavour.  It has also been used for cider.  Fell out of fashion by the 1890s for being too small.

It is picked in early October, and can be stored until the end of March.

Tree planted Oct 2014 on Apple Day. Donated by Terry Gould in memory of his wife Mary Gould. 

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Apple. Knobby Russet

Knobby Russet was first shown to the London Horticultural Society in 1820, by a grower who came from Midhurst.  The skin is heavily russeted and covered in knobs or warts, giving it a very strange and eye-catching appeal. It has been described as ‘the ugliest apple in the world’ !   The apple flesh is cream coloured, crisp, with a sweet rich flavour.

It is ripe in October and can be stored until March.

Tree planted Feb 2015. Donated by Roger Brown in memory of his parents Frank and Betty Brown.

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Apple. Egremont Russet

As the name suggests, it arose on the estate of Lord Egremont, Petworth House.  The head gardener Fred Streeter (the BBC gardener 1935-1975) maintained that it was raised at Petworth by Mr Slater and Lord Egremont together with Petworth Nonpareil (now lost) and Bossom. It was first recorded as a variety in 1872.

It is usually picked under-ripe for the supermarket trade, so the full flavours never develop. If left on the tree until it is properly ripe, it has sweet, crisp, nutty, smoky flavour.  Fruit picked in October will store until December.

Tree planted Feb 2015. Donated by Susie Acton in memory of her father Lewis Wood who first planted this orchard in the 1930’s. 

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Apple.  Bossom 

This variety was probably raised at Petworth House by Lord Egremont and Mr Slade in 1820.  It was exhibited at the London Horticulture Society in 1826. Was considered to be a culinary apple.

The last known tree was growing in the garden of Miss Scott of Graffham, but blew down in a gale in 1986. Grafts were quickly taken thus saving the variety from extinction.

The fruit is large and conical. The skin is pale greenish yellow, covered with russet and occasionally marked with red. Flesh is yellowish white, tender, crisp, juicy and sugary with a pleasant sub-acid flavour.

The fruit ripen in early October and can be stored until January.  Still a very rare apple.

Tree planted Feb 2015. Donated by the Carpenter Box Charitable Trust.

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Apple.  Dr Hogg

Introduced by the Head Gardener From Leonardslee Gardens in 1880.  Named after the eminent Victorian pomologist Robert Hogg. A very large cooking apple which is ripe in September. The flesh is rich and sweet. Excellent for baking and cooking to a purée. Attractive stripy blossom.

Picked in early September it stores to the end of October. A rare apple

Tree planted Sep 2015. Donated by Valerie Cable in memory of Mabel and Frank Cable 

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Apple. Sussex Forge

Recorded by Hogg in 1851, but believed to be much older.  Known as the ‘Cottager’s Friend’ as it can be used for cider, for cooking and then by Christmas is sweet enough to eat. Widely grown in Sussex and Surrey in the C19th.  The name Forge derives from the old iron working areas of the Weald, especially around Crawley and East Grinstead.    Fruit is ready to pick late September and stores until December.

Tree planted Sep 2015. Donated by Jan Whittle in memory of her husband Leonard Whittle. 

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Apple. Duck’s Bill.  

An old Sussex apple sent to the National Fruit Trials in 1937 by Mr Fred Streeter, head gardener at Petworth House.  Middle to late in season, it is a large, tall and often conical apple with pronounced ribs. The body is pale green/yellow, flushed with orange, scarlet and carmine stripes, with russet dots. The flesh is crisp, white, with a good blend of sweetness and sharpness.  Dual purpose, but perhaps more cooker than dessert. Picked in early October It keeps to December.  A rare apple.

Tree planted Sep 2015.  Donated by Joyce Sleight in memory of her husband Geoff Sleight. 

appleducksbill

Apple. Sussex Mother

A nineteenth century dessert apple, described by Hogg* in 1884, and still found growing in Sussex, especially around Heathfield. The green apples are conical and angular, become yellow, sometimes with a flush, sprinkled with russet dots.  Has a sweet, spicy taste. Picked in early September it is used straightaway as it softens quickly.

Tree planted Oct 2015 on Apple Day. Donated by the community in memory of Marlene Carman     

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Apple. Hawkridge

Hawkridge “is a very popular apple in East Sussex especially around Hailsham, Heathfield and those parts where it is met with in almost every orchard and garden” wrote Robert Hogg in 1851.

The origin is Hawkridge Farm, Hellingly, near Hailsham.

It is a medium sized apple.  The skin is golden yellow with pale red stripes, flushed a dark bright crimson with darker stripes. The flavour is sweet and sometimes described as balsamic.

This is still a very rare apple that is not in the National Apple Collection.

Tree planted Feb 2016. Donated by Jane Oxley in memory of her grandfather Samuel Durrant Oxley. 

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Apple. Alfriston

Alfriston A cooking apple raised in the late 1700’s by Mr Shepherd of Uckfield who called it

Shepherd’s Pippin. It was renamed Alfriston in 1819. It stores well, and was once popular with sailors on long voyages. It keeps its shape fully on cooking.

Tree planted Oct 2016.  Donated by Anne Hill in memory of Evelyn Bristow and Anthony Hill.

In addition to the Heritage Sussex Apples, the following fruit trees have also been addd to the Orchard:-

Apple. Margil

Thought to have originated in Europe. It was known in England before 1750. Fruits have firm, rather dry flesh with a sweet and rich aromatic flavour. It was being grown at the Chequers Garden Orchard in Steyning in 1898.

Tree planted March 2017. A donation from Andrew and Lesley Slater

Apple. Herefordshire Russet

An excellent new variety combining the aromatic flavour of a Cox with a golden russet skin.

Developed in Kent in 2003.

Tree planted March 2017.  Donated by Anne Jennings in memory of her parents and sisters. Vincent and Olive Jennings, Helen and Lucy.

Apple. Michaelmas Red

A pretty early to mid season pink flushed apple. Fruits have greenish white, rather soft, very juicy flesh with a sweet refreshing vinous flavour.  Developed in Kent in 1929.

Tree planted March 2017. Donated by Pat Carroll in memory of her husband James Carroll.

Pear. Beth 

One of the earliest pears to ripen. It has good flavour and is a reliable cropper.

Fruits have creamy white, melting, juicy flesh with a rich, sweet flavour.  Developed in Kent in 1938.

Tree planted Mar 2017.  Donated by Peter Legge for his daughter Beth.

Pear. Concorde

Concorde pear was raised in Kent in 1977 from a cross between Doyenne du Comice and Conference.
Fruits are pale yellow with a juicy, smooth flesh and sweet, pleasant flavour. Makes a compact tree and has heavy crops.

Tree planted Mar 2017.  Donated by Bruce and Marion Jeffery to celebrate their Diamond wedding anniversary.

Plum. Warwickshire Drooper 

The Dundale plum from Lamberhurst Kent, is believed to be the original Warwickshire Drooper. It was first grown on a commercially in the Midlands and the name changed to Warwickshire Drooper.
Medium sized, oval-oblong fruit. Yellow skin speckled with red spots. Tender, yellow flesh. Thick skinned. Quite sweet. Fruit hangs well on the tree. Can be eaten off the tree or used for cooking.   Very heavy regular cropper. Attractive tree particularly in the early autumn when it has long hanging branches full of yellow plums.

Tree planted Mar 2017.  Donated by Lynn Reed in memory of her parents John and Vera Mantle.

Pear.  Beurre Hardy.

Is one of the finest dessert pears. Tender, juicy and sweet..    Origin: France 1820

Medium to large, round conical fruit. Rough, light green skin covered with a fine bronze russet. Occasional red flush. Creamy white, tender, juicy flesh. Sweet, aromatic flavour with a hint of rosewater.

Tree planted Feb2016. Donated by Lorraine and Rob Fowlie in memory of father-in-law Robert Richard Fossey. 

pearbeurrehardy

Pear.  Doyenne du Comice.  

A large and fine flavoured popular dessert pear. Ripe in October  Origin: France 1849

Was introduced to Britain in 1858.   Considered as one of the finest dessert pears.  Pale green skin turning pale yellow. Pale yellow, juicy, smooth flesh. Very sweet, delicious flavour.

Tree planted Mar2016. Donated by Simon Zec in memory of his mum Sandy Zec 

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Plum.  Opal

Is an excellent early dessert plum rather like a small Victoria.  Origin Sweden 1925

Medium sized, oval-oblong fruit.  Reddish purple flush over a yellow bloomy skin. Speckled with small white spots. Firm, pale gold flesh. Free stone. Good sweet flavour.  A heavy regular cropper.

Tree planted Mar2016. Donated by Val Whitaker in memory of her daughter Vicky Jackson

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Plum.  Purple Pershore

Raised near Pershore, Worcestershire in 1877.  Medium large, oval fruit.  Purple skin turning blue-black when fully ripe covered with a lighter coloured bloom. Firm, dry, yellow flesh. Quite sharp flavour. Best used as a cooking plum producing an excellent colour and flavour when stewed or made into jam. Also very suitable for freezing.  If allowed to ripen well it can be used as a dessert plum.

Tree planted Mar2016. Donated by Vivien Coates in memory of her husband John Aylmer Coates

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Greengage

Early Transparent Gage

Raised by Thomas Rivers in 1866.  Medium sized, round-oblong fruit. Primrose yellow bloomy skin with red dots.  Yellow sweet juicy flesh.  One of the best dessert gages and also useful for jam making.

Tree planted Feb2016. Donated by David and Sandra Humphreys

greengageearlytransparent

Quince

Meeches Prolific

Unlike many other varieties it gives a good regular crop in the British climate. It produces attractive large slightly pink blossom in late spring. The fruit is quite large and pear shaped. It ripens in October turning a golden yellow colour and developing a strong quince aroma. It has a sharp flavour and is

excellent for making quince jelly.

Tree planted Mar2016. Donated by Felicity and Charles Prescott

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