NANFANS GRANGE A very old pear tree at Nanfans Grange, Prestwood, near Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. A date was found on an old building within the garden there, saying 1764, though the house now there is more early 20th century. This old pear and several very old apple trees suggest the modern house was built within a more ancient setting. These pears are small and distinctly rounded, hard and sharp until ripe in late September, but when the colour changes from green to golden yellow they are sweet and quite intensely flavoured, with a lemony edge. The flesh is more crumbly than crisp and juice is not plentiful, but they are very pleasant despite the small size. Sometimes the flesh is a bit granular. Poll B
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

NOUVEAU POITEAU Raised in 1827, it first fruited in 1843. Named after Msr. Poiteau, who was Director of the Royal Gardens in Paris. It was called Nouveau Poiteau because a ‘Poiteau’ already existed. Very large fruit, of a pyramid shape and with greenish-yellow or pale yellow skin, and brown russeting. Fine-grained, melting, very juicy flesh, perfumed, and with a rich, sweet flavour. It is ripe in November. Poll D

 

 

 

PARSONAGE Well established in the 19th century, but with no known history. Often found in Gloucestershire. An early to middle season perry pear, usually ripe in September. It doesn’t store for long. Small and round/oval fruit which is sweet with medium acid and low tannin. Large trees and good bearers. Poll A

   
 

PASSE CRASSANE A French dessert pear bred in 1845, roundish and dumpy in shape, with green yellow skin often entirely covered with russet. Hogg describes it as half melting, somewhat gritty, brisk, vinous and aromatic. It often needs a good summer to ripen fully. Pick in October, store to February before eating. Bunyard said it was not ripe until March. Poll B

   
   
PITMASTON DUCHESS A large dessert and culinary fruit, raised by Mr Williams at Pitmaston in 1841, from Duchesse D’Angoulême x Glou Morceau. The fruit is pale yellow when ripe and with russet patches. The flesh is juicy, sweet and full of flavour. Ripe in mid-September to mid-October. It can also be used for cooking. The hardy trees have a tall upright growth, with good autumn colour. A good cropper, but triploid and not to be relied upon for good pollination of diploids. Best in a warm spot. Poll D
   
 
PRINCESS Given to us by Deborah Van Der Beek of Lacock, Chippenham. She has a labelled old tree in her garden. Princess was formerly very popular, but is now very rare. Raised from a seed of Louise Bonne around 1875 by Thomas Rivers’ nursery at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, it is a late ripening dessert pear, picked in late September, but reaching its peak from October to November. Medium sized, longish and regular with pale yellow skin, blushed reddish brown. The flesh is fine, melting, very juicy and sweet. ‘A good and free cropping pear’ according to Bunyard. Poll B
   
 
PUDDLEDOCK PEAR An old unknown pear variety sent to us by Mrs Susan Samter of Frome, Somerset. The Samters owned one of the farm cottages, built for the poor, the records going back to the 1770s. Derelict since the 1960s, before renovation, they named their cottage ‘Puddledock’, after the hamlet on the farm estate at Chartwell, Kent, owned by Winston Churchill, where they had lived before. The pear tree in their garden at Puddledock Cottage is very old. Local memory records that it has looked old for a generation. It bears very small, round or dumpy fruit, the golden skin covered with warm russet patches and specks. Very sweet even when under-ripe. It is a very pleasant mouthful, even if a small one. Poll C
   
   
ROBIN Said to be an old Norfolk pear, but it has also been long known in Lincolnshire, Rutland and Nottinghamshire, as revealed by the account of Thomas Hitt in 1755. He says it is also known as August, Muscat, Averat, Hanvelle, Royal and ‘The French King’s Favourite Pear’. It ripens in the middle of September, and is roundish but narrow towards the stalk and full at the eye. He adds “Tis less than the common Orange Bergamy, but its flesh is breaking, like them, and its juice is very highly perfumed, it bears in large clusters, and in great plenty, either against a wall or on dwarfs”. Small in size and bright red cheeked, hence the name. Though ripe in the middle of September, it can be stored. Sweet, juicy and tasty. Poll B
   
   
ROUSSELET DE RHEIMS A truly ancient pear first mentioned by Le Lectier in 1628. It has also been known in Britain since the 17th century. It was recorded by Worlidge, Langley, Miller, Lindley, Scott, Hogg and Bunyard, from 1691 to 1920, but has not been noted in Britain since. Scott (1872) said “no pear has been more sought after or esteemed in times gone by” and other accounts also rate it very highly. We found it in the collection of the late Nick Botner, in Oregon, and he kindly sent us scions in 2010. It was acknowledged to be a good dessert pear and an excellent culinary pear, if a little on the small side. Ripe in August to September, oval/conical, with skin of green/yellow flushed brown red and covered with darker dots. Half-melting, sweet flesh with a rich flavour and perfume. An abundant cropper. Poll B
   
   
ROUSSELET DE STUTTGARDT Scott (as Chevriers de Stuttgardt) suggests this is of German origin, from about 1780. By 1826 it was in the collection of the London Horticultural Society at Chiswick and was still known in Britain towards the end of the 19th century. It has since passed from knowledge here. As with Rousselet de Rheims, above, we re-discovered it in the late Nick Botner’s collection and returned it here in 2010. A medium sized, pear shaped fruit with greenish yellow skin, dotted with greyish white, and with a blood red flush. The flesh is white, fine, juicy, perfumed, sweet and refreshing. A dessert pear, ripe in August. Abundant cropper. Poll B
   
   
SAINT NICHOLAS Also from the collection of the late Nick Botner in Oregon, who sent scions in 2010. This pear has variously been known as Duchesse D’Orléans, Beurré St. Nicholas and other names, and there is some confusion as to whether they are all the same. Saint Nicholas was first noted in Britain in 1826, in the LHS collection at Chiswick. All these pears are now missing. Scott says Beurré St. Nicolas was a wilding discovered at St. Nicolas, Angers, France, first fruiting in 1839. Hogg gives no origin, calling it Duchesse D’Orléans, while giving the other names as synonyms. Scott’s and Hogg’s descriptions vary in the season of ripening Scott says ‘one of the best of early pears’, ripening in September, while Hogg says it ripens in October. They agree that it is a large, dessert pear, with sweet, juicy, melting flesh. We find it ripens in early October and it has a very sweet, rich caramel taste and melting texture. The flesh can be a little granular, but is quite juicy and would be perfect for those liking their pears crisp, as the sweetness is there before ripeness. Poll B
   
   
SANGUINOLE A very ancient, small dessert pear, perhaps once used for perry, and recommended for cooking by Bunyard, though the size is a setback. With a very long history in Europe, it was first mentioned in Britain by John Rea in 1676, though it is likely to be the Blood Red pear of Parkinson in 1629. The name comes from the red stained flesh. Though ageing trees are still, possibly, to be found in old orchards here, it seems not to have been mentioned for nearly 100 years. It still exists in Europe and America and we were sent scions by the late Nick Botner, from his collection in Oregon, in 2010. The fruit is small, russeted and red blushed and spotted. The flesh is red stained, juicy and with a sweet musky flavour. Ripe from August to September. Scott says it should be picked before ripe and adds that it makes a nice ornament for the dessert. A fascinating historical relic and, though not a first class dessert pear, it is perfectly pleasant to eat and decorative. Poll B
   
 
SECKLE An old American pear, sometimes called Seckel, dating from before 1817, when described by Coxe. It was found wild in a wood by a trapper called ‘Dutch Jacob’, on land owned by Mr Seckle, near Philadelphia, who was the first to multiply it. It came to England before 1819 and was in the LHS collection in 1826. It has been a popular small dessert pear ever since, though barely planted in the 20th century. Ripe in September to October, rounded, oval and regular, Scott said “no pear is of more honeyed sweetness”. It is very juicy and vinous and having modest vigour is recommended for small gardens. It has been said to be incompatible for pollination with Fondante d’Automne, Louise Bonne of Jersey and Williams’ Bon Chrêtien although the 1885 National Pear Conference, held at RHS Chiswick, had declared that no varieties of pears were found to be intersterile – i.e. they would all pollinate others, if flowering at the same time. Poll C