Autumn bounty at Alfriston Clergy House

Autumn at Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex

Take inspiration for some warming autumn cooking as you walk around the raised kitchen garden. With traditional apple tree varieties in the orchard laden with fruit and pumpkins peeking through their cover of leaves, this is the perfect place to rest and reflect as the days draw in.

Autumn sees a bumper crop of  pumpkins at the bottom of the ktichen garden, just in time for Halloween.   The long green leaves of the leeks are standing proud, waiting to be made into a deliciously tasty and easy leek and potato soup.

Pumpkins resting on the garden wall at Alfriston Clergy House
Pumpkins resting on the garden wall at Alfriston Clergy House

 The apple trees in the orchard are all traditional old fashioned English varieties Lady Sudeley and Charles Ros, and their boughs are now laden with fruit.  Our namesake the Alfriston apple is a favourite it was raised in the late 1700s by Mr Shepherd of Uckfield and originally named Shepherd's Pippin. It was renamed 'Alfriston' in 1819 by Mr Booker who lived in that village, and it is a favourite Victorian exhibition variety, much sought-after for its handsome fruit and excellent keeping qualities. The fruit is a large bright green-yellow rectangular shape, and it cooks down to slightly acidic puree.

Apple trees in the orchard at Alfriston Clergy House
Apple trees in the orchard at Alfriston Clergy House

The medlar tree is a very decorative addition to any garden but also bears an unusual looking fruit.  It is covered in a mass of large white flowers in May which is then followed bythe appearance of its flattish fruits. If the fruit is to be eaten raw, it should be 'bletted' for 2 - 3 weeks, by which time the fruit is deeper brown in colour and the flesh softer.  to 'blett' a fruit is needs to be picked and spread on straw or sawdust somewhere cool, and allowed to ripen further.  Alternatively the fruit can be made into a pink jelly with a very distinctive flavour.

The star-shaped fruit of a medlar tree
The star-shaped fruit of a medlar tree

Octavia Hill, one of the founders of the National Trust, described the Alfriston Clergy Houser  as “tiny but beautiful, with orchard and a sweep of lowland river behind it”.