We have tried to find varieties of apples, pears, plums and gages, and cherries that are native to Norfolk or East Anglia. The list below offers a short description of the fruit, its county of origin and the earliest known recorded date for the variety. The list also groups the fruit by their use type: dessert or eating; dual purpose (suitable for cooking or eating); cooking or culinary.
With thanks to the East of England Apples and Orchards Project for permission to reproduce material from their website (www.applesandorchards.org.uk).
Dessert or eating apples
Hubbard’s Pearmain (1796: Norfolk)
First sold by George Lindley, nurseryman, of Catton near Norwich. In C19th Norfolk it was a very popular gardeners’ choice. Small to medium sized and pearmain-shaped. Green skinned with a lot of russeting and usually with an orange flush. Sweet, rich and complex flavour.
Laxton’s Superb (1897: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. of Bedford. Wyken Pippin x Cox’s Orange Pippin. A medium sized greenish apple flushed deep carmine and occasionally streaked purple. Firm, crisp flesh that can taste a little like aniseed. Has resistance to canker and mildew.
London Pearmain (1842: Norfolk)
Found growing at Attleborough Hall in 1948. Markedly pearmain-shaped and with a sweet-sharp flavour. Can be quite large in size. The skin is yellowish green with a flush of bright orange.
Red Ellison (1948: Norfolk)
A more highly coloured red ‘sport’ of Ellison’s Orange, discovered growing in the Fenland orchards of Harold Selby at Walpole St. Peter. Medium sized. Sweet and slightly aromatic in flavour. Its skin is completely covered in a dull carmine flush with a spicy aroma.
Adam’s Pearmain (1826: Norfolk)
Either arose in Norfolk or Herefordshire (where called Hanging Pearmain). Considered an essential fruit for Victorian and Edwardian gardens. A medium sized pearmain shaped apple with a bright orange red flush and russet. Complex nutty, aromatic, sweet flavour.
Cooking or Culinary apples
Five Crowned Pippin (1500s: Norfolk)
Also called London Pippin. Origin confused. Prominently ribbed body. A medium sized green apple with no russet. A long keeper. Quite acidic but can be quite nutty. Keeps its shape when cooked.
Norfolk Beefing (1689: Norfolk)
Known in Norfolk for centuries but may have originated in France or Holland. A very long keeping tough skinned and firm fleshed purple flushed apple. Excellent for making dried apple rings, and for baking slowly in a moderate oven to make ‘Biffin cakes’ – once a popular Victorian delicacy around Christmas.
Striped Beefing (1794: Norfolk)
Found growing at Lakenham, near Norwich. A large apple mid green in colour with bold red stripes and a red flush. A long keeper which keeps shape well when cooked. Needs little sugar.
Summer Beurre (pear) (1863: Hertfordshire)
Raised at Rivers’ Nursery. One parent is the variety Beurre d’Arenburg. A medium sized greenish yellow conical pear with varying amounts of patchy golden russet. Flesh is fine and very sweet.
Laxton’s Superb (pear) (1901: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. by crossing the varieties Williams Bon Chrétien x Beurre Superfin. Medium sized. Yellowish-green with an occasional dull red flush and broken stripes. Flesh is soft and sweet.
Laxton’s Foremost (pear) (1901: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. by crossing the varieties Marecahl de la Cour x Fertility. A large yellow pear. Can have a reddish flush and a few red stripes. Flesh is buttery and sweet.
Beurre Bedford (pear) (1902: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. by crossing the varieties Marie Louise x Durondeau. A large sized pale yellow pear with a scattering of russet. Flesh is firm, aromatic and juicy.
Cambridge Gage (1800s: Cambridgeshire)
A greenish yellow skinned gage that is probably a seedling of Green Gage. A more prolific cropper than Green Gage. Sweet, soft, juicy flesh.
Ingall’s Grimoldby Green Gage (c.1900: Lincolnshire)
Raised by William Ingall of Grimoldby, near Louth, as a seedling of a Green Gage. Slightly larger in size than Green Gage. Very sweet in flavour.
Green Gage (1700s: Suffolk)
In the eighteenth century Thomas Gage of Hengrave Hall, near Bury St. Edmunds, received a shipment of fruit from France that included the gage Reine-Claude (which probably originally came from Armenia). His gardener forgot its proper name so renamed it Green Gage after Thomas. Fruits can be large but not usually heavy cropping. Soft fleshed and juicy.
Laxton’s Ideal (pre 1937: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. A medium sized oval yellow plum. The flesh is firm and very juicy. A self-fertile, high quality variety.
Wallis’s Wonder (c.1960: Cambridgeshire)
Raised at Simpsons of Fordham for Eric Wallis of Bluntisham, by crossing the varieties Severn Cross and Victoria. A medium to large sized purple skinned plum with soft, sweet flesh.
Dual purpose plums
Olympia (1904: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. and introduced in 1937. A large oval blue-black coloured plum with a bloom.
Early Rivers (1834: Hertfordshire)
Raised at Rivers’ Nursery from the variety Precoce de Tours. A medium sized deep purple coloured plum with a bloom and golden yellow flesh. Heavy cropping.
Bountiful (1900: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. and introduced in 1926. A medium to large sized shaped plum with a pinkish skin and a fine bloom. Self-fertile. Firm fleshed but acidic.
Laxton’s Cropper (1906: Bedfordshire)
Raised by Laxton Bros. and introduced in 1931. A large oval shaped plum with a blue-black skin with a fine bloom. Self-fertile.
Caroon (1725: Hertfordshire)
Recorded as being grown around Geddeston in the 1700s, it is a medium sized, roundish, shiny black skinned fruit with dark purple flesh.
Colney (c.1980: Norfolk)
A medium sized dark red skinned variety with deep red coloured flesh. A useful late ripening cherry.
Alba Heart (pre 1900: Hertfordshire)
A small, round, shiny black skinned cherry also traditionally found growing in neighbouring Buckinghamshire.
Summer Sun (c.1900: Norfolk)
A medium sized dark red coloured variety with good late frost tolerance and suitable for planting in exposed areas. Partially self fertile.
Turkish Black (pre 1900: Hertfordshire)
The name would suggest that this cherry may have foreign origins. It is a medium sized cherry with shiny almost black skin and very dark, juicy, flesh.