Autumn apples: join us for apple pressing at Hardy's Cottage

A wheelbarrow full of rosy apples in the garden at Hardy's Cottage on a fine autumn day

Join us in October and November to celebrate Dorset’s favourite fruit, the apple. The Hardys had their own apple orchard and as a boy Hardy recalls helping his father with the apple harvest and climbing the trees with his sister, Mary.

'Who is this coming with pondering pace,
Black and ruddy, with white embossed,
His eyes being black, and ruddy his face
And the marge of his hair like morning frost?
It’s the cider-maker,
And appletree-shaker,
And behind him on wheels, in readiness,
His mill, and tubs, and vat, and press.'
from ‘Shortening Days at the Homestead’ by Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s orchard was largely replanted in the 1970s so it is uncertain whether any of Hardy’s own apple trees remain. Today there are a mix of apple varieties including Bramley, Lane’s Prince Albert and Newton Wonder, all reliable cookers; a Blenheim Orange, which is an eating apple often found in old farm orchards; and Orleans Reinette, another eater with a very good taste. One of our favourites is the Warrior, which is an old truly Dorset variety.

This autumn, visitors are invited to help  with the apple harvest. On selected days until the apples run out there will be the opportunity to crush and press our apples and taste the sweet juice straight from the fruit. On other days our costumed volunteers will be delivering Victorian cooking demonstrations using our own apples to create delicious food to sample.

We will be exploring Hardy’s writing and poetry as he often featured the apple in his works. Hardy’s apple themed poems will be displayed in the orchard and visitors will have the opportunity to have a go at writing their own poem and adding it to our poetry tree in the woodshed. 

The cottage is open seven days a week from 11am until 5pm in October, and from Thursday to Sunday from 11am until 4pm in November. Apple pressing and cooking demonstrations are subject to availability of our staff and volunteers. See our events listings for full details.