The Orchards of Eastern 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. For the first time the fascinating history of orchards in the east is revealed.
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. 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.