“Apple trees and orchards have been part of the Norfolk landscape since at least medieval times. Over the centuries many different varieties of apple have been develped to suit the county’s climate and varying soil types. Everyone, from the lord of the manor to the humble cottager, found space for apple trees. A valuable natural resource, they provided fruit for eating and cooking, fruit for storing and using over the winter months, fruits for cyder-making and surplus fruit for sale in the markets. Tudor Norwich in the reign of Elizabeth I was described as ‘either a city in an orchard or an orchard in a city, so equally were houses and fruit trees planted. Today more than two-thirds of the county’s old apple orchards have disappeared and the remaining commercial growers prefer non-native apples. Despite this, nearly forty Norfolk apple varieties still exist, and there are written records of another thirty which have been ‘lost’.”
From ‘Help us to find Norfolk’s lost apples’, a leaflet by the East of England Apples and Orchards Project
Norfolk orchard groups
To find community orchards local to you, see our community orchard map
- Orchards East is a multi-region environmental and cultural project covering six counties in the east of England – Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.Funded by the Heritage Lottery fund and based in the School of History at the University of East Anglia (UEA), it is devoted to discovering and understanding the past, present and future of orchards in Eastern England, and will last for four years.
- East of England Apples and Orchards Project (EEAOP) – works to ensure a future for local orchard fruits and orchards. It covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. They supply local variety fruit trees, attend Apple Days, run workshops and produce a newsletter. There are about 250 local fruit varieties and EEAOP work to preserve the varieties and their orchard habitat for their local significance, genetic diversity, as local food sources and for their landscape and wildlife value.
Where to buy trees in Norfolk
- Chris Bowers & Sons, Whispering Trees Nurseries has 170 varieties of apples and pears, cider apples, plums, medlars, quince, gages, cherries, damsons and nuts on various rootstocks.
- Wimbotsham PE34 8QB. 01366 388752.
- East of England Apples and Orchards Project (EEAOP) – catalogue has over 240 varieties of apples, pears, plums and cherries. Supply standard or half standard bare-root trees.
- Foundry Nursery & Ranworth Trees – around 25 apples, plus pears, cherries, plums, gages, quince, medlar, nuts etc
- Tasburgh, Norwich, Norfolk, NR15 1NS. 01508 470357
- Apple Revival – Specialist grower of rare apple trees. Locates and identifies rare varieties.
Orchard services and produce in Norfolk
- Crones Organic Apple Juice – single variety
- Fairview, Dam Green, Kenninghall NR16 2DP
- Whin Hill Norfolk Cider – traditional Norfolk cider, perry and juices produced from apples from own orchards. Sell different ciders and also apple brandy. Available from shop in Wells-next-the-Sea or online.
- Plumbe & Maufe – 30 plum varieties, gages and apples, available for pick your own and ready picked in season. They also make apple juice and jam from their own fruit. Over 3,000 trees.
- Norfolk Pure Apple Juice – Ashill Fruit Farm – The orchard mainly comprises thirty different varieties of apples, three varieties of pears, and various varieties of plums and soft fruits. Produce single variety and blends of cloudy apple juice. Available through farm shop or online.
- Sandringham Estate Apple Juice – produce 8 varieties of apple juice. It is served at Buckingham Palace garden parties and receptions and is available for purchase in shops and supermarkets.
- EcoTech Centre, Swaffham – Heritage Orchard has over 50 varieties of apple, pear, plum, quince and medlar trees growing here. Many are old Norfolk varieties, dating back over 200 years. Blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes between the trees, a time-honoured practice carried out across Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The Green Britain Centre has displays and information on Energy, Transport and Food.
- Norfolk Rural Life Museum – The museum’s orchard is planted on the site of the workhouse burial ground and was planted as an orchard in the 1920s with traditional East Anglian varieties. This orchard is a reference library for people seeking to identify their own trees. The orchard helps ensure a sustainable future for historic apple varieties and is managed in partnership with the East of England Apple and Orchard Project (EEAOP). New trees have been planted in the southern half since 1998.
- Norfolk Scrumpers – Apple pressing and bottling service. Based in rural south Norfolk, at Norfolk Scrumpers we offer a service for people who would like their apples pressed. We press, pasteurise and bottle apple juice into Burgundy style bottles. The juice produced is cloudy with nothing added other than vitamin C to retain its original colour. We use sustainably sourced waste fire wood to fire our boiler for pasteurising the juice. Outside of the juicing season we prune and manage orchards using chemical free processes and we prioritise low impact approaches. Our aim is to tie in with more charities, social enterprises and community groups to further promote connections to our national food crop.