Wiltshire Maidens are so rare these days that well over 1,000 people turned out to see them in Marlborough on Sunday at the town’s third annual Apple Day.
After moving to St Mary’s Church Hall in 2011, the show about all things to do with apples and apple products returned to the town hall where it started. And once again, said Philippa Davenport, chairman of event organisers Marlborough Community Orchard group, the day was a huge success.
The sun shone all day, bringing visitors in droves to the town hall where there were apple-related events both inside and out.
The event opened with a cornet fanfare by Stephanie Browning and Harry Austen, pupils at St John’s School in the town, to greet mayor Edwina Fogg and the Wiltshire Maidens – rare Wiltshire apple tree saplings specially grafted for Marlborough Community Orchard by Barters Nursery at Bradford on Avon.
Outside the town hall, Richard Paget, from Little Bedwyn, was kept busy all day pressing apples brought along by the public into apple juice, which can also be allowed to ferment into cider.
Even the hog roast outside the hall run by Sumblers butchers had an apple connection – apple sauce made from local cooking apples.
The whole day revolved around the humble apple and the hundreds of varieties that are still found in local gardens. Inside the hall, experts were on hand to identify apples taken along by members of the public.
Ms Davenport said: “The sun shone on this year’s Apple Day and our promise that it would be the best yet was rewarded with over 1,000 visitors.”
In her welcoming speech, Coun Edwina Fogg referred to the 91 pledges made at last year’s Apple Day that people would plant apple trees – including the rare old Wiltshire varieties – in their gardens.
She said: “Once planted, we can truthfully boast that Marlborough has saved their gene bank for our children’s children to inherit.”
This Sunday will see the creation of the new plantation on Marlborough Common when ten rare Wiltshire varieties, together with two crabapple trees, will be planted in a diamond formation to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
There will be a parade from the town hall at 11am led by the Mayor to The Common for the ceremonial planting ceremony and blessing by Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy.