Jordans Mill plants a piece of pear history

An Old Warden Pear tree is planted at Jordans Mill
An Old Warden Pear tree is planted at Jordans Mill

Jordans Mill made history as it planted an ancient local variety of pear tree once at risk of disappearing, on Wednesday.

The Old Warden Pear was first cultivated in the 14th century by monks in Old Warden and was mentioned in Shakespeare’s play The Winter’s Tale.

It has been under a preservation programme at Shuttleworth College with students propagating the trees planted in a bid to save this ancient variety.

With 30 trees now grafted successfully, the College is donating two of these to Jordans Mill to ensure the tree lives on in the local area in which it was first grown.

Svenja Burckhardt, Head Gardener at Jordans Mill, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for the team here at Jordans Mill.

“It’s not every day you get the chance to plant a piece of history and grow a tree that has such local relevance and was once at risk of fading away completely.

“The ethos of our gardens and Jordans Mill itself is about keeping our food heritage alive, which is a perfect fit with the Old Warden Pear.”

The two Old Warden Pear trees will take pride of place in the Jordans Mill Gardens so visitors to the heritage attraction can enjoy this ancient tree of local and historical significance for many years to come.

Paul Labous is a lecturer with the Department of Horticulture at Shuttleworth College and initiated the programme to preserve the Old Warden Pear several years ago.

He said: “When we started the project there were only five Old Warden Pear trees growing naturally in the county.

“The students at Shuttleworth have now propagated around 30 trees and we’re delighted to be able to donate two of these to Jordans Mill so we can continue to preserve our local history and keep the Old Warden Pear trees alive.

“We wanted the trees to be in a place where they could be enjoyed by local people and those with an interest in history and horticulture and the gardens at Jordans Mill is the perfect location.

“We hope visitors to the gardens will enjoy the trees for many years to come.”

A cooking pear, the Old Warden Pear was the main ingredient in the Warden pie, a pastry pie made with saffron, which was referred to in Shakespeare’s play The Winter’s Tale.

The Old Warden Pear was popular as it would keep from autumn harvest through to January or February the following year without refrigeration.

You can discover the rich heritage of food production in Chronicle Country at the mill, including rare varieties of salad, potatoes and onions.

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