Scone harvest begins

A gardener harvesting scones at Calke Abbey
Published : 01 Apr 2017 Last update : 30 Mar 2017

The beginning of April marks the start of the traditional Scone Harvest in England. Here at the National Trust our gardeners have been nurturing early varieties of scones through the dark winter months and are now ready to pick the fruit of their labours to serve in our tea-rooms.

History

The Scone Harvest is a tradition stretching back to ancient times. Caesar’s biographer Asinus makes reference to the defeated British tribes gifting scones in tribute to the emperor at the start of April.

Rare evergreen scone tree in bloom
Scones on a tree at Packwood

In the mediaeval period Scone Day was a huge holiday often marked with large “Scone-Ball” games where teams competed to carry a giant scone from one end of the village to another – a tradition carried on to this day in the Herefordshire hamlet of Firlapool.

Hand picked from the trees at Berrington
Scones harvested in the Berrington orchard

More recently the Duke of Smethwick  offered vast sums of money to the first farmer to bring him a “fresh pycked fruit scone harvested on ye fyrst day of April” to his table at Attingham from his estates in Lincolnshire. The resultant frenetic contest became known as the Scone Races as farmers charged across the country in search of a fortune.

Lovingly tended in the Charlecote gardens
Scones picked from the vines at Charlecote

Our harvest

The gardeners at the places we care for throughout the Midlands have been carefully tending to their scone trees and plants. Recent years have seen the development of many new and exotic varieties of scone plants but most of our gardeners like to focus on the traditional fruit, cheese and plain varieties.

" Our gardeners work so hard to keep alive the traditional craft of scone growing and the start of the harvest on April 1st is always a truly special day."
- Dr Avril Prime, Head of Historic Horticulture

All of our scones are grown using traditional scone farming techniques and tools such as the wooden scone dibber or the copper “Sconeman's weasel”. The farming techniques are all organic and the resultant crop is sold through our own restaurants and tea-rooms helping to raise money to protect the gardens for the future.

Visit Midlands

Situated in the heart of England, the Midlands offers a huge variety of landscapes and places to enjoy and explore.