Creating orchards together

The manor house surrounded by blossoming damson trees

The orchard at Brockhampton is a rather magical place throughout the changing seasons. From white springtime blossom to branches laden with rosy-red apples, the orchards and produce lie at the very heart of this ancient estate.

Records show that throughout the last century the orchards surrounding Lower Brockhampton Manor have decreased in size, with the land now being used mostly for grazing livestock. Thanks to a substantial award of £140,000 from Postcode Earth Trust by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and funds from Arts Council England alongside generous National Trust supporters’ donations we are now in a position to reinstate two lost orchards.

Through clever and imaginative planting, the first orchard, known as ‘reimagined orchard’ will tell different stories of how various fruit trees ended up in the UK. Project Manager, Ellie Jones has been working alongside renowned Bristol-based artist Walter Jack and chartered landscape architects Rathbourne, to create both an engaging and intriguing design for the project. It has been decided that five circular ‘orchard rooms’ will be planted containing unusual and rare varieties, specially chosen to tell the story of the eating apple. The design also includes one of the five ‘rooms’ being planted solely with damson trees using a particular variety known as the Shropshire Prune, a local variety which has thrived at Brockhampton over the past sixty years.

" These circular orchards, are about telling the story of fruit at Brockhampton and where it began a few miles away and a few thousand miles away. This is about geographical connections that are the extraordinary story of fruit’ "
- Walter Jack

The second orchard will be situated on tenanted farmland. Brockhampton farmers, James and Victoria Hawkins are keen to support the project as part of their ambition to diversify and create more nature friendly habitats. The orchard will be planted with meadow grass and native wildflowers to encourage a diversity of pollinators such as bees and butterflies and not only will this new space create more homes for wildlife but the design itself will help improve drainage and culverts, allowing water to flow more effectively throughout the fields.

James and Victoria Hawkins in the orchard
James and Victoria Hawkins sat in the orchard during springtime when the blossom is out.
James and Victoria Hawkins in the orchard

Step one of this ambitious project will be developing pathways and planting the five ‘orchard rooms’ which will commence this year. This work will be carried out with the support of local community groups and supported by Ignite cic, a Herefordshire based not-for-profit community interest and well-being company.

" Nowadays it is important for us to ensure we are taking care of our health and well-being and we hope this project will enable more people to feel included in our work and able to spend more time in the outdoors and closer to nature’ "
- Ellie Jones

Reinstating the Brockhampton orchards will commence over the next three years. A total of three fields over twenty-one acres will be transformed meaning fruit production will once again be at the very heart of Brockhampton. Come along with friends and loved ones and see this space grow, if you’d like any involvement please don’t hesitate to contact us directly and be part of creating a special space for everybody, forever.