Did you read the post about Transition Stratford helping us with our tree planting? Well one of the trees they were planting was a Worcestershire Pearmain. There is a lovely story that links this tree to a Charlecote volunteer…
This variety of apple was first grown from a pip planted by market gardener Mr William Daniel Hale in his orchard at Swan Pool, St Johns, Worcester. William Hale is a great, great grandfather of one of Charlecote Park’s volunteers.
The apple tree was named Hale’s seedling and two types developed, one with a yellow fruit and the other with a red-coloured fruit. In 1872 a Worcestershire nurseryman, Richard Smith ‘the second’, who owned over 150 acres of nurseries in the St Johns/ Lower Wick area of Worcester, offered William Hale £10 (but £5 according to two of his grand daughters—see newspaper cutting) for the exclusive right to remove grafts from the red– coloured variety.
He renamed it the Worcester Pearmain. It was introduced to the market trade in 1874 and received a first class certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society the following year. It is described as a brilliantly coloured apple with white, firm flesh which is a little juicy and sweet with a pleasant flavour (Bultitude, J. 1984). It is still one of the most important commercial varieties in the UK and has the distinction of being the most widely used apple in the cross-fertilisation of modern commercial varieties.
In the 20th Century Richard Smith ‘the second’ handed the business over to his son Richard ‘the third’. The nursery gradually contracted in size as land was sold off. In 1993 Richard Smith & Co. Finally ceased trading when the remaining 3.5 acres were sold for housing development. Hale’s original orchard was felled just before the Second World War and the site used for the Christopher Whitehead Secondary School.