HESSLE Discovered in the village of Hessle in Yorkshire, and first recorded in 1827, though thought to be older. A very hardy variety, which was once very popular in Scotland and the north of England. Small to medium sized fruit, with a greenish-yellow skin freckled with brown dots and juicy, sweet flesh, mildly flavoured. Ripe in early September. The trees are vigorous, hardy, and prolific. Poll C



JARGONELLE A very old variety, dating from at least the early 1600s. Parkinson called it Gergonell in his ‘herbal’ of 1629. It is one of the best early dessert pears, fruiting in early August with good yields and fruiting on young trees. The trees are very hardy and will grow well on walls without sun. The longish, small, fruit has melting flesh and a musky flavour. Its tolerance for cooler sites made it very popular in the north and Scotland. Part tip bearing, but still producing spurs. Triploid. Poll C




JOSEPHINE DE MALINES Raised by Major Esperen around 1830, after his return to Ghent, having served in Napoleon’s Army. Josephine was his wife. Hugo Goris in Belgium has informed us that there is no accent on Josephine, because the correct name should be Josephine von Mechelen, Mechelen being the town in Flanders, now part of Belgium. The French overlordship of Belgium gave Flemish towns French names, though they have now reverted. Malines was Mechelen. One of the best late dessert pears, keeping until February or March. The flavour is excellent, the sweet pale pink flesh perfumed of roses. The fruit tends to be small, especially if not thinned, and the trees are not particularly vigorous, but are reliable croppers. Best in a warm spot. Poll C


KENNELL PEAR Brought to us by Rita Poulson of Sheepy Magna, Atherstone, Warwickshire. The ancient tree was owned by her recently deceased father, Arthur Callwood of Monwode Lea, near Whitacre, Warwickshire. Twice struck by lightning, the tree stands in a field, the last relic of an old garden/orchard. It has, for company, cattle and a large 16th century stone and ornamental brick chimney stack, the only standing remnant of a grand house. The old tree is supported by a prop and, though twisted and split, it is not hollow. The old house was built in the late 1500s and the historical details, kindly provided by Rita Poulson, show that it was owned by the Kennell (later to become Kennon) family, Mercers of Coventry. Their family history continues up to the late 17th century. There was known to be an orchard at the house in 1759, from an old map drawn by Matthias Baker. Rita Poulson recalls that she ate the pears as a child and that her mother, who lived there from 1919, referred to the tree as ‘the old pear tree’. A few years ago her late father in law, then in his 90s, grafted a piece of the old pear onto a newer tree to ensure the survival of the variety It is a small to medium sized pear, somewhat flattened and rounded in shape, green with a warm flush, ripe in August and sweet and juicy. We are very grateful to Rita Poulson and her family for keeping it so well, for so long. Poll B

LAXTON’S FOREMOST Bred by the Laxton Brothers nursery at Bedford, in 1901 and introduced in 1939. The impressive golden brown fruit is juicy and sweet, and with slightly more acid than some pears, to balance the rich flavour. It fruits slightly later, in mid-September. Poll D
LOUISE BONNE OF JERSEY An old dessert pear, raised around 1780, with a very good flavour and good yields. The long, small to medium fruit is greenish yellow, red flushed. The white flesh is sweet and melting, very juicy, with an intense, flowery taste. Attractive blossom. It has been said not to pollinate Fondante d'Automne, Seckle or Williams although the 1885 National Pear Conference, held at RHS Chiswick had declared that no varieties of pears were found to be intersterile – i.e. they would all pollinate others, if flowering at the same time. Pick September, eat October-November. Poll B
MARÉCHAL DE LA COUR Raised 1841. A dessert pear, very popular in the 19th century, renowned for its full flavour and large fruit. Pale yellow fruit almost covered with cinnamon russet, and sweet, juicy and melting, yellow flesh, finely perfumed. A late season pear, ready for eating in late October, and keeping for a month. Hogg deemed it one of the finest pears in cultivation. Abundant bearer. Triploid. Poll A
MARGUÉRITE MARILLAT Raised by Msr Marillat near Lyons in 1872, this is one of the largest dessert pears. The golden skin is flushed with rusty red, and the soft sweet flesh has a musky flavour. The fruit is ready fairly early, from mid to late August, and will store for a few weeks. It is pleasant if eaten crisp, too, and does not discolour when cut. Trees are neat, upright and hardy, with good autumn colour. Said by some to be self fertile but it is also said to be sterile as a pollinator. Poll A
MAXSTOKE NIBBLER A wonderful old pear tree, certainly ancient, brought to our attention by Mark Lewis of Bentleys Farm, Maxstoke, Warwickshire. The tree has been struck by lightning several times and is now split to the ground and corkscrews around itself in an intimate dance. The pears are very unusual, both for their size and their season. The ripe pears always drop, almost as one, to the ground at the very start of August. They are a mere 1½ inches long and 1 inch wide, with skin of pale yellow and an occasional red flush, with variable thin russet patches. The eye is so ‘open’ it appears to have exploded. The stalk is long and prominent in relation to such a small rounded fruit. The flesh is soft, sweet and very juicy. Mr Lewis’ rural farm goes back to Domesday and the site of this and other trees suggests that this tree might be very old indeed. A very unusual pear. Our thanks to Mr Lewis. Poll B
MEADFOOT PEAR An old variety, the original name of which is obscure and unlikely to be discovered. We were shown it by Mr and Mrs Peter Clarke of Benson, Oxfordshire, when they invited us to see their garden, which also contained the Golden Russet and Meadfoot Wonder apples, supra. Their house was built within a mature orchard in 1928. This is a very interesting small to medium sized pear, with a covering of thin, warmly coloured russet, rounded but often asymmetric in shape and with a markedly oblique stalk. The flesh is white, crisp, very sweet, juicy and good to eat in mid October, when crisp, but by the end of October it melts down to a fine buttery texture, having developed a rich flavour. Mr Clarke imparts that the pears are also excellent when stewed, when still crisp. Poll C
MESSIRE JEAN A very old pear with a mysterious history. The famous French Pomologist, Leroy, said it appeared around 1540 and Scott was in agreement. It was known to John Evelyn in Britain before 1669. Early in its history, there were observations that several different versions existed, though La Quintinye said they were all same in 1690. Thomas Hitt in 1755 thought the differences were due to growing conditions, as did Leroy (1873) and Philip Miller, from 1727 to 1759, who thought it one of the very best. Other writers have kept them separate, and there were four sorts delineated, the- Brown, Gilded, Grey and White. Also, many early writers called the pear Monsieur Jean or John. Leroy, in his Dictionnaire de Pomologie. of 1873, drew attention to a false Messire Jean, which was a cooking pear. The pear we have is medium sized, ripe in mid to late October and keeping well to the end of November. The shape is a little obtuse and variable, the skin thick, rough and russeted in the shade, reddish brown in the sun and sometimes with golden patches, and with greyish/fawn dots. The flesh is white, fine, but sometimes granular, very juicy, sweet and with agreeable acid. The flavour is perfumed and later it becomes very richly malty and caramel flavoured. Scott considered it a top quality fruit for drying. Poll C
MICHAELMAS NELIS So called because it was raised from Winter Nelis, but is ripe in September. Raised in a cottage garden, near Gravesend, it was introduced by Bunyard’s Nurseries of Maidstone, Kent, in 1900. Roundish fruit, with pale greenish yellow skin covered in a variable amount of russet. The flesh is sweet, juicy, melting and richly aromatic. Edward Bunyard said it was in its most excellent condition before it turned yellow. Poll D