The Orchards of Eastern England: History, Ecology and Place

Barnes, Gerry and Williamson, Tom (2021) The Orchards of Eastern England: History, Ecology and Place. University of Hertfordshire Press. ISBN 9781912260423

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Abstract

Although the history of orchards and fruit varieties is of great popular interest, there have been few academic treatments of the subject. This book presents results from a three-year project, 'Orchards East', investigating the history and ecology of orchards in the east of England. Together, the eastern counties of Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk have a tradition of fruit cultivation comparable in scale to that of the better-known west of England. Drawing on far-reaching archival research, an extensive survey of surviving orchards and biodiversity surveys, the authors tell the fascinating story of orchards in the east since the late Middle Ages. Orchards were ubiquitous features of the medieval and early modern landscape. Planted for the most part for practical reasons, they were also appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. By the seventeenth century some districts had begun to specialise in fruit production - most notably west Hertfordshire and the Fens around Wisbech. But it was only in the 'orchard century', beginning in the 1850s, that commercial production really took off, fuelled by the growth of large urban markets and new transport systems that could take the fruit to them with relative ease. By the 1960s orchards were extensive in many districts but, since then, they have largely disappeared, with significant impacts on landscape character and biodiversity. For well over a century now, orchards have been romanticised as nostalgic elements of a timeless yet disappearing rural world. Even before that, they were embedded in myths of lost Edens, or golden ages of effortless plenty. A key aim of this book is to challenge some of these myths by grounding orchards within a wider range of historical and environmental contexts. Orchards are not timeless, and in some ways our relationship with orchards is a classic example of the 'invention of tradition'. What do our attitudes to this aspect of our heritage tell us about our wider engagement with the past, with nature, and with place? 67 full colour illustrations; 67 full colour illustrations

Item Type: Book
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2021 23:35
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2021 23:36
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/81057
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