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Exploring the orchards at Brockhampton

Aerial view of the apple shaped orchard at Brockhampton, Herefordshire.
Aerial view of the apple shaped orchard at Brockhampton, Herefordshire. | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Brockhampton is home to over 145 acres of orchards, the largest in the Trust's care. Surrounding the house is an orchard full of Shropshire prune damson trees which, as you head through the gate, begin to intermingle with numerous varieties apple trees, in addition to other fruits. Between 2019 and 2022, we restored three lost orchards at Brockhampton, planting 700 trees over 21 acres of the estate.

Spring at Brockhampton

Brockhampton is home to the largest orchards cared for by the National Trust, making it the perfect place to enjoy the spectacular displays of blossom during the spring. The orchards are home to hundreds of fruit trees including damson, apple, pear, plum and quince trees, all of which beautifully contribute to the abundance of fragrance and colour during the spring.

In early April, watch as the Shropshire prune damson trees erupt into blossom, surrounding the medieval manor house in a cloud of delicate white flowers. The orchards here at Brockhampton don’t just please visitors with Instagram-worthy blossom shots and fruit picking but they also create a myriad of habitats and biodiversity too. To enhance this space further, lowland meadow has been planted in and around the orchards, the combination of traditional fruit trees and native wildflowers will encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies in the warmer months.

When to see blossom at Brockhampton

With over 145 acres of orchards across the estate, it can be tough to know exactly when and where you can see the blossoming trees. While we can't pinpoint exactly when the blossom will arrive, here are a few tips on spotting it during your visit:

Spring blossom on the damson trees at Brockhampton, Herefordshire with house in the distance
Spring blossom on the damson trees at Brockhampton, Hererfordshire | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Damson blossom

The orchard surrounding the manor house is almost entirely made up of Shropshire Prune damson trees, creating magnificent displays of cloudlike blossom in spring. Typically blooms between late-March to mid-April.

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Blossom at Brockhampton 2024

Starting from the spring equinox, we will be celebrating the beauty of blossom here at Brockhampton, encouraging our visitors to engage with the orchards and experience the joy that blossom brings in the springtime.

This year, we will be continuing our partnership with Salt Road from 2023, who will be starting a new project as part of our blossom celebrations. Salt Road will be delivering inspiring workshops, activities, and artworks within the orchards - more details about events and activity dates will be coming soon.

With 3km of accessible paths, natural play in the orchard rooms, and hammocks that swing beneath the branches, there is a way for everyone to enjoy the beauty of blossom in the reimagined orchards at Brockhampton.

Fruit trees

Surrounding the house is an orchard full of Shropshire prune damson trees which erupt into cloud-like blossom around early April, followed by laden boughs of sweet fruit by late summer.

Head through the gate and the damson trees begin to intermingle with apples, many local heritage varieties grow here such as the Onibury Pippin and Worcester Pearmain.

Other fruit on the estate include cherries, pears and the not-so-common medlar fruit which dates back to the Roman times. You have to wait for this fruit to ‘blett’ or rot, before it is sweet and soft enough to eat.

As the weather turns cooler, resident farmer James Hawkins grazes his Hebrides sheep here to help manage the orchards organically.

Spring blossom on the damson trees at Brockhampton, Herefordshire with house in the distance
Spring blossom on the damson trees at Brockhampton, Hererfordshire | © National Trust Images/John Miller

'Reimagining' the lost orchards project

From 2019 to 2022, we worked with our local community to restore three lost orchards at Brockhampton. Across 21 acres, over 700 trees have been planted, including field maple, hazel, elder and blackthorn, as well as many varieties of apple, damson, pear, plum and quince. Each one has been chosen to provide the best ecological mix for pollination and habitat development to encourage the orchard to establish, grow and flourish.

As well as planting hundreds of fruit trees, together we have transformed grazing pasture into lowland wildflower meadows that support biodiversity, creating spaces where people can connect with nature through the seasons.

Around 3km of accessible paths have also been installed, which start in the historic damson orchard near the manor house and continue on into the newly replanted fields. You can follow the winding path through the original ‘reimagined orchard’ which was designed and created by artist Walter Jack, in collaboration with Rathbone Partnership, back in 2019. Walter Jack designed the first orchard by creating five chambers which will eventually be surrounded by lowland meadow. Here you can discover unusual and rare varieties of fruit, specially chosen to tell the story of the eating apple, from its origins in Kazakhstan through to its well-known and traditional use as the Herefordshire cider apple.

A woman carrying a child amongst the pink blossom branches.
Visitors admiring blossom at Brockhampton | © ©National Trust Images/Barbara Evripidou

At the beginning of 2022, we installed 'orchard rooms', where your little adventurers can now run, jump and explore on the natural play trail and see if they can spot all of the animal benches and sculptures which have been inspired by the wide variety of wildlife which call the orchard home.

You can also step aboard the ‘Herefordshire Bull’ Trow which now takes centre stage in the restored orchards. Trow boats were used to transport goods, such as fruit, to and from Herefordshire along the Wye and Severn rivers. This replica boat was built by T. Nielson & Co and was kindly gifted to the National Trust by the Herefordshire Community Foundation. Climb aboard the Trow and imagine you are sailing down the river with your cargo of orchard fruit.

Generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Arts Council England, as well as funding from Sport England, helped to kick start this project. With their help and yours we have improved the quality of land at the heart of the Brockhampton Estate. We have created an exciting space that can be enjoyed by everyone for generations to come.

‘Reimagining’ the lost orchards: a timeline

4 Dec 2019

First day of tree planting

Planting began inside the 'orchard rooms' today with 'Merryweather' damsons, a Brockhampton favourite. Countryside volunteer James shared his top tips for tree planting with a team of staff and volunteers before we got stuck in. 18 trees planted today, just a few hundred more to go! 

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

A view across a moat to the back of the manor house at Brockhampton on a sunny day, with the house reflected in the water


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