Pear with links to the Bard gets lottery boost

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Shuttleworth College is celebrating winning a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for a project with links to Shakespeare.

The college, in Old Warden, has received £8,400, for its project “The Bedfordshire Old Warden Pear: Identification by DNA testing, Propagation and Bedding Out”, at the Old Warden site.

It was led by Paul Labous, RHS Tutor, and goes towards identifying the original Old Warden Pear from different varieties, using DNA testing, and exploring the heritage of the pear and its associations with the village of Old Warden.

The aim of the project is to research the origin of the local culinary Warden Pear, believed to have first been grown at the Cistercian abbey near to the village of Old Warden around 1388.

The verification of a distinct Warden Pear, mentioned in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’, is of significant interest in Bedfordshire and to the local community of Old Warden village. Warden pear pies were a Bedfordshire speciality, being baked in the residual heat of the traditional bread ovens, overnight.

Shuttleworth College will carry out an investigation aimed at distinguishing remaining specimens of the original ‘’Old Warden Pear’’, from other ‘Wardens’, (a general name used in the Middle !ges to describe any culinary pear). In order to achieve this they will commission a series of DNA tests which will show genetic differences between various pear samples from various areas of the country.

Paul Labous said: ‘It’s very exciting that we have been awarded the HLF grant, especially in this 400th anniversary year of William Shakespeare and his reference to a Warden Pie in ‘The Winter’s Tale’.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England, said: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to offer this grant.”