A dreary Tuesday morning was somewhat cheered by hearing a conversation on BBC Radio 2 about our lovely hometown, Southwell, and the Bramley apple celebrations that are taking place over the weekend.
Southwell in Nottinghamshire is well-known for many things: we have a beautiful Minster, an all-weather racecourse (which once flooded, I believe, but hey ho!) and a pub where King Charles I stayed shortly before he got the chop. Chris Evans – host of the Radio 2 breakfast show – mentioned these, but mainly focussed on the town’s famous cooking apple and the festival that will take place this weekend. He seemed a bit bemused by the sheer amount of activities going on during the Bramley Apple Festival, but the Bramley really is at the heart of our little town. A local pub, our local newspaper and even a local nursery school pays homage to the Bramley name. There are even coach tours that arrive from as far away as Japan bringing tourists to see the home of this unassuming little fruit!
The Bramley was first grown in a garden on Church Street near to Southwell Minster. A blue plaque commemorates this, and if you pop your head (politely) over the wall you can glimpse the original apple tree which is over 200 years old! The tree itself made headlines earlier this year as there are fears it is dying due to some kind of tree fungus, poor thing.
The Bramley apple is so important to Southwell that an annual festival is held every October following World Apple Day. A food festival is held in Southwell Minster, local shops and businesses adorn their windows with Bramley related scenes and the local primary school, Lowes Wong Infant School, crowns an apple king and queen following an apple-themed fancy dress parade. Not being the most arty mother, neither of my children have ever been crowned, but they do enjoy taking part and it’s always fun to watch the parade. My personal favourite costumes of recent years were the (Bramley) Apple i-Pod and the Statue of Liberty from the Big (Bramley) Apple.
We’ll be out in town on Saturday morning celebrating the apple and the arrival of Autumn. We’ll sample the local produce, watch the Morris Dancers and judge which shop window display is this year’s best. That afternoon we may even bake some Bramley apple crumble using the apples from our own Bramley trees (direct descendants of the original, so I am told). Having lived in Southwell for ten years, this a tradition that I now really enjoy and my own little born-and-bred Southwellians are certainly proud of their illustrious local apple.