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Today saw the official planting of a rather special tree in Acreshort Community Park....
A Mary Barnett apple tree, a species of dessert apple that originated in the village of Steeple Ashton in the early years of the 20th century, today took its place in the corner of the former school playing field that we are developing as a community park.
A short planting ceremony was attended by Margaret Kyte, 84-year-old granddaughter of Mary Barnett, and great granddaughters, Sue Hodge and Sandra Stevens, all still living in the village. Also present were Mel Burge, Pippa Birch and Lynda Beaven, as well as Penny Aeberhard, who presented the tree to the village after nurturing it in the local Manor orchard since 2011.
Mary Barnett apples are recognised as a separate species by the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm, Faversham in Kent.
Mary Jane Barnett lived at Rose Cottage, Steeple Ashton Common, and died young, at 44, in 1912. She and her husband, Worthy, are both buried in St Mary’s churchyard.
Mary Barnett’s apples were allegedly grown from pips originating on her wedding day. They were, so the story goes, taken from a Lane’s Prince Albert tree growing next to a Lady Sudeley tree. Her apples have green flesh with a sub-acid flavour and are ready for picking in mid-October. It’s still possible to grow them, as propagation material is available.