Apple Tree Planting in the Wiltshire Times

From: John Aeberhard

21 February, 2018

01380 870602




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Planting the Mary Barnett apple tree: left to right (standing) Linda Beavan, Margaret Kyte and Sandra Stevens, granddaughter and great granddaughter of Mary Barnett, Pippa Birch and Penny Aeberhard who donated the tree. Kneeling with spade is Mel Burge.

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 a former school playing field that the local parish council is developing as a community park.

 A short planting ceremony was attended by Margaret Kyte, 84-year-old granddaughter of Mary Barnett, and great granddaughter Sandra Stevens, bothl still living in the village. Also present were Mel Burge, Pippa Birch and Linda Beavan of the parish council, as well as Penny Aeberhard, who presented the tree to the village after nurturing it in the local Manor orchard for some seven years.

 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.

 Acreshort Community Park

The ultimate aim for the park off Acreshort Lane is to promote and encourage the health and well-being of all Steeple Ashton residents. Plans include an improved entrance, a picnic area, a basket swing and other older children’s play equipment and adult outdoor fitness equipment. 

 A grand opening will be held on 22 September this year, which will be a celebration of all achieved so far, as well as providing the villagers with the opportunity to have their say in what is completed next. Other plans could include a community bulb planting event, children’s nature trail and other annual events.

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Margaret Kyte with an old photograph of her grandparents, Mary and Worthy Barnett.