Squeezing more juice from Erddig's apple harvest

A visitor takes a closer look at a windfall apple in Erddig's orchard

As the pleached limes begin to turn gold and a blaze of red Virginia creeper covers the west front of the hall, Erddig’s orchards are full to the brim with apples – 180 varieties are grown in all. As part of Erddig’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the annual weekend event for the humble apple will become a month-long programme.

Forbidden fruit, symbol of fertility or the key to good health, the simple apple has been viewed in many ways all over the world and through the ages, so there’s no doubt this versatile fruit is worthy of celebration. 

Time is ticking for the garden team to collect all the fruit and display them for sale starting on Monday 2 October, the apple display forming the centrepiece of the programme during the first weekend. The garden contains some of the finest examples of Victorian varieties, including Adam’s Pearmain, Lord Lambourne and Colonel Vaughn.

The apple display showcasing Erddig’s many varieties of apples harvested in the orchards is available to see from 7 October. Each variety collected is displayed and labelled from Arthur Turner to Ashmead's Colonel. Our oldest known variety is the Decio, thought to date back to Roman times.

Rich pickings in Erddig's apple orchards during harvest celebrations
A volunteer busy harvesting apples in Erddig's orchard

Month-long celebrations

Whether you prefer toffee apples, apple pies, apple sauce or just a plain old unadulterated apple, the festival will offer something for everyone. From Monday 2 until Sunday 29 October visitors can enjoy an autumn feast for the senses.

Jamie Watson, General Manager at Erddig said:

“Thousands of visitors return to the festival every year. By nurturing a month-long festival, we’re hoping that many more will come and savour the delights at a more relaxing pace.”

Throughout the month there will be an apple trail with unique apple inspired sculptures carved by our artist in residence Simon O’Rourke. We’ll have mini cider press demonstrations on 14 to 15 October, with opportunities to taste - and buy the fruits of our labour.

Savour the delights of Erddig's apple harvest
Ralph Owen pressing Erddig's apples in the Timber Yard

The Ralph’s Cider team will be with us on 21 to 22 October pressing our apples to begin their transformation into Erddig cider. You can buy last year’s cider in our restaurant and shop. 

Erddig apple display

The tractor shed takes centre stage as our gardeners create a display of the different varieties of fruit they’ve picked.  Last year this amounted to 150, it's looking more like 130 this year. Not all of the 180 apple trees bear fruit, or enough fruit to make the display.

The Erddig tractor shed takes centre stage during the harvest celebrations
Erddig apple display with each of the 150 different varieties on display in the tractor shed

Our garden team’s apple display showcasing Erddig’s many varieties of apples harvested in our orchards is the centrepiece of the celebrations and is available to see throughout October. Each variety collected is displayed and labelled for everyone to see, from Arthur Turner to Ashmead's Colonel. Our oldest known variety is the Decio, thought to date back to Roman times.

2017 Themed programme

Each week of the harvest celebrations will have a different theme; the first kicks off by looking back at our apple history with learning activities and demonstrations. The second is all about getting the creative juices flowing with art, live music and storytelling. A highlight will be the return of Peter Read performing ‘No Place Like Home’, his one man show which takes a warm-hearted look at Erddig’s last squire and his difficult decision to hand his home and all its contents to the National Trust.  

Celebrate the harvest at Erddig this autumn
Crate of National Trust Erddig apples

Week three of our celebrations is set to get the taste buds tingling with cookery demonstrations and opportunities to taste the delights of our harvest and our final week rounds off with a focus on fitness. After all an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Let imaginations run wild with Jake Evans storyteller at Erddig
Jake Evans storyteller with toy monkey in Erddig garden

Family fun

Our team of volunteers has organised a host of apple-themed games and craft activities to try at weekends, from making chocolate apple pops to apple and spoon races on the lawn. Award-winning storyteller, Jake Evans joins us with apple-inspired stories on 15, 21, 22 and 31 October between 11am and 3pm.

Origins of the festival

Erddig’s apple festival began with an ambition to rescue and preserve old apple varieties and mark National Apple Day which is 21 October.

Now with 180 apple varieties grown at Erddig, many rare and historic, it’s fair to say that Erddig still aims to do just that, but the event has grown to become a much bigger celebration of this humble fruit.

Visit Erddig's annual apple festival
Head Gardener Glyn Smith with crop of apples on west front of house

Head Gardener, Glyn Smith said: 
“I am pleased that so many people make our apple display and harvest their annual must-see event. From humble beginnings, it has grown to be an important celebration that takes many months of preparation. We couldn’t do it without the support of our garden volunteers who help prune, pick, pack and sell our cherished harvest. ”

Take an early autumn stroll along Erddig's west front
A blaze of red Virginia creeper on the west front of Erddig house

Visitor Experience Manager, Jemma Stubbington said: “Spreading the celebrations over a longer period might take a little more work this year, but it means we’re not cramming it all into one weekend, which takes the pressure off our car park, collection and gardens and will hopefully mean more people can enjoy the fruits of our labour.” 

2017 Programme

  • Erddig 2017 apple display – around 150 varieties to see in the tractor shed
  • Artist in residence, Simon O’Rourke NEW apple-inspired sculpture trail
  • Mr Phoebus Penny Farthing experience – a chance for grown-ups to ride as the Yorkes once did 6 to 8 and 13 to 15 October
  • Erddig cider bar 7 and 8 October
  • Matthew Wood art workshops 14 October
  • Jazz music, So What Now band 14 and 15 October
  • Peter Read 'No Place Like Home' theatre production 14 and 15 October
  • Live music in the house – enjoy a rare opportunity to hear the Bevington organ being played 16 to 20 October
  • Ifton Colliery Band 21 and 22 October
  • Ralph's cider making and cider press demonstrations 21 and 22 October
  • Ralph’s Cider bar and you can try before you buy – 21 and 22 October
  • Synergy Live band – 29 October
  • Erddig 40th anniversary multi-media installation

For Families

  • NEW Special apple trail to find our crew of quirky apple characters carved by Simon O’Rourke
  • Meet the donkeys and horses – make badges with the horse team (weekends). Look out for the donkeys in the stables, you might catch them doing a spot of apple bobbing with our windfall apples as a little treat. 
  • Getting to the core of our collection – a trail to discover apple items in the house.
  • Punch and Judy 7 and 8 October
  • Woodland classroom activities in Wolf’s Den 14 October
  • Storytelling with award-winning Jake 15, 21, 22 and 29 to 31 October
  • Techniquest apple science activities 28 and 29 October
  • Apple-inspired games and craft activities with our volunteers including chocolate apple slice decorating (weekends)
  • Mr Phoebus Penny Farthing experience – mini bikes to try in the Timber Yard 6 to 8 October
  • Family creative writing activity – 7 and 8 October
  • Bird feeder making with the RSPB 2, 9, 28 and 29 October.