We are pleased to report that, thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, good progress is being made on our Hundred Year-Old Apple Tree project.
The story goes that Canon Luckock (Rector of Titchmarsh from 1912 to 1962), or possibly Lord Lilford (the Lord of the Manor) gave an apple tree to every soldier who returned home to the village from World War 1.
It’s such a lovely story: at a time when the village was mourning those lost in the war and deciding on a fitting memorial for them, that thought should also be given to those who survived and came home. What a poignant gift: an apple tree that would fruit every year and feed the family in the difficult times ahead.
This village legend has been retold over the years and Titchmarsh History Association set out to see if any of these special trees survive to this day. Members of the association:
- delivered a questionnaire to every house in the village, asking about old apple trees. Specifically, have you heard of ‘the story’? Do you have an old apple tree in your garden? If so please send a picture.
- searched parish magazines over the years before, during and after World War 1, looking for a reference to ‘the story’.
- searched the national newspaper archive for references to ‘the story’.
- looked to identify the soldiers who returned and to track down where they lived in the village, with a view to matching them to our old apple trees.
From the 22 responses, a number of trees would seem to fit the criteria and a pomologist (fruit tree expert) was invited to give a more informed estimate of their ages. In his opinion, he felt that several of the trees were around a hundred years old, a couple were younger and a few were considerably older (about 150 years old!). New stock is now being produced from cuttings taken from those trees which are most likely to have been planted around 1918/19.
In 2018, to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War, the association will plant some of the new young apple trees around the village. These will be a living link to this momentous period in our history, the memory of which would otherwise inevitably fade in the collective memory of future generations.
The work has been made possible as a result of a generous award of £750 from the Postcode Lottery Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.