Press Releases

Apple Day at the Museum of English Rural Life – University of Reading

Release Date : 15 October 2007

The Museum of English Rural Life is holding an Apple Day event on later this month.

The Museum (MERL), which is owned and managed by the University of Reading, will be celebrating Apple Day on October 21 as part of the annual event to celebrate English apples, orchards and local distinctiveness, initiated by community arts organisation Common Ground ten years ago.

The event will take place in the Museum and in the new garden, where there are several young apple trees already bearing fruit.

Giles Reynolds, Head of Grounds at the University, who was responsible for designing the MERL garden, said: "In the MERL garden we planted several apple varieties including Bramleys seedling which was bred in 1883 and is used for cider making, Cox's orange seedling, which was raised in Slough in 1825 and is a desert apple, and James Grieve."

The MERL Library and Archives house a wealth of information about apple production in England. The Apple Day event provides a unique opportunity for MERL to show off some gems from the collections, which visitors rarely get the opportunity to see. Photographs and beautifully illustrated Victorian texts from the MERL Archives will be on display.

Peter McShane, MERL librarian, said: "Visitors will have a rare opportunity to inspect the rare and highly sought after Herefordshire Pomona, dating from the late Victorian period and providing a catalogue of the apples and pears grown in the county. Published in two volumes, it is characterised by beautiful art work, including over 400 original watercolours of the different fruits, buds and blossoms."

Kathryn Robinson, Environmental Learning Officer at MERL, who is organising the event, added: "Visitors will be able to come along and taste a variety of different local apples, learn how to grow them, and take part in an art workshop and other activities involving apples. Visitors will be able to see some beautiful books from the MERL archives relating to the history of apple production in England.

"Whatever your level of interest, be it studying, growing, or just eating apples, there will be something for everyone. Julie Roberts, MERL artist in residence, will be running a drop-in art workshop for families - printing with apples."

The Museum is delighted to welcome a guest speaker, Dr Barrie Juniper, from the Department of Plant Sciences, Oxford University. He will be giving a talk entitled 'The Mysterious Origin of the English Apple' and bringing in some of the rarer specimens of his apples. Dr Juniper has written 'The story of the apple' with David J. Mabberley, and is an expert on the ancestry of the apples we know today.

The event will be held at the Museum of English Rural Life on Redlands Road on October 21st from 2pm to 4pm. Admission is free and booking is not required. More information can be found at the MERL website, by calling 0118 378 8660 or emailing Merl Events.


Note for media: Media are welcome to attend. If you wish to come along, please contact Alison Hilton, marketing officer, on 0118 378 8660.

Notes for editors:

1. More information about Common Ground

Common Ground is internationally recognised for playing a unique role in the arts and environmental fields, distinguished by the linking of nature with culture, focussing upon the positive investment people can make in their own localities, championing popular democratic involvement, and by inspiring celebration as a starting point for action to improve the quality of our everyday places. Apple Day is a way of celebrating and demonstrating that variety and richness matter to a locality and that it is possible to affect change in your place. Common Ground has used the apple as a symbol of the physical, cultural and genetic diversity we should not let slip away. In linking particular apples with their place of origin, we hope that orchards will be recognised and conserved for their contribution to local distinctiveness, including the rich diversity of wild life they support. More information is available at the Common Ground website.

2. More information about the Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life, in Redlands Road, Reading, was founded by the University of Reading in 1951 to reflect and record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. Today, it forms part of the University's Museums and Collections Service. The Museum operates as a major resource and research centre for the history of food, farming and the countryside with links into the School of History and other academic departments at the University.

3. More information About the University of Reading

The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise.


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