HISTORICAL CONTEXT REPORT
WOLDS END ORCHARD – PART OF CAMPDEN'S HERITAGE BY JUDITH ELLIS
Orchards have been part of the town’s landscape environment since medieval times, contributing to the town’s unique heritage, now remembered in street names such as Cidermill Lane and Pear Tree Close.
This heritage is continued within living memory of fruit picking, basket weaving etc.
Wolds End Orchard is the last remaining orchard within the town.
The land has a pronounced ridge and furrow most likely dating back to medieval times. (see Excerpts from FWAG Report, 2006 & Cotswold Archaeological Survey, 1994 below).
Chipping Campden, like most Cotswold towns, has a long tradition of orchards and cider making. In the past, many burgage plots and larger properties had domestic orchards; these are mentioned in C16th and C17th wills along with outside features such as gardens, outhouses and courtyards. Other larger orchards can also be traced.
The 1722 map of the Campden estate (detail below) shows that most of the grounds of the ruined Campden House had been turned over to fruit trees, leased to two men, Nicholas Fletcher and Samuel Horsman. This map also details Pear Tree Close behind what is now the Noel Arms car park.
Much of the fruit will have been used to make cider or perry; probably using the “Cyder-Mill house” in Cidermill Lane, which is just by the Wolds End Orchard. This mill has been there since at least the C18th, definitely before 1765 when it was mentioned in sales particulars: To be sold FIVE Freehold Cottages or Tenements and a Cyder-Mill house thereunto adjoining, with the Cyder-Mill upon the premises, a large Malthouse and two large Wing Stones, .... Oxford Journal 13 July 1765.
The Gainsborough Estate map of 1818 details seven orchards in Westington, the wealthier part of town, including Cherry Orchard which later gave its name to housing. The map also describes Wolds End Orchard as 'House Ground', implying that it was land used for domestic purposes rather than farming, rearing pigs who would rootle amongst the fruit trees.
Many orchards are mentioned in Sales Particulars from the C18 and C19 as desirable sources of income. For example, this Sale of the Green Dragon in the Worcester Journal: … TO BE SOLD, all that extensive and well known PUBLIC HOUSE, known by the Sign of the GREEN DRAGON, … with a large and commodious yard, garden, and a productive orchard planted with thriving young fruit trees. Worcester Journal 16 Sept 1819.
An Ordinance Survey map of 1885 (below left) shows just how many orchards surrounded the town. This is the earliest evidence we have of Wolds End Orchard, which must have been well established before 1885 to be marked on the map.
The existence of local orchards continues with the 1902 the OS map (above right) showing them around Westington and at the backs of High Street houses.
Some Campden orchards existed for centuries. For example, the Will of Innkeeper Nathaniel Tidmarsh written in 1782 mentions Littleworth Orchard (below) which was still in there when the new housing estate was built in the 1950s.
The development of larger orchards for commercial purposes happened in the latter half of the C19 and the Ordnance Survey map of 1923 (below) shows extensive holdings in Westington and Littleworth. Most of these fields are now built over with houses.
This detail of the same 1923 OS map shows the extensive orchards along Station Road, as well as Wolds End Orchard.
Fruit picking provided good employment for women and children as well as men in the summer months and was an integral part of the local economy.
“I loved it when I went with Dad to see Les Brodie in the cherry season. He'd be organising the pickers in his orchard down Station Road and I would 'help', eating as many as I could.” MF
“When I was a lad growing up just after the war there were orchards all over, mostly cherry orchards, up Catbrook, and The Leasows that we got to from Dyers Lane. Old Campden House had the oldest fruit trees, on the slopes of the garden - apple, pear and cherry.” RG
Fred Coldicott (born 1910), in his book Memories of an Old Campdonian, says: “When I was a lad, there were five large orchards and two smaller ones in Campden and Broad Campden. at Broad Campden they were at Briar Hill Farm and W.N. Izod's, at the rear of his farmhouse. At Campden there was Hand's Orchard, opposite side of the road to the Coneygree; George Haines in Westington, and Attlepin Farm; then there was the smaller one in Gainsborough's, behind the old ruins, and Uncle Bob's at Catbrook”.
Every orchard had to have a bird-minder for five or six weeks. This was usually someone who was not quite able-bodied enough to do regular work. 'Teapot' Williams (below in Rimell’s Orchard, Old Campden House) was always on duty at Hand's Orchard in Station Road. It meant being there from dawn to dark. They were provided with a gun and rattle. The cherry-picking season was always a boon to casual workers; for a few weeks they could earn good money: the more they picked, the more they earned.
This 1950 map shows the extent of the orchards around Campden, making fruit growing a considerable commercial business at the time.
Ridge and Furrow Feature
Excerpt from the Farmers & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) Report. 2006
“The site mirrors the impressive ridge and furrow landscape that can be seen in the fields to the North and West of the site which combine to be a particularly striking example. Although not designated as a scheduled monument the ridge and furrow should be preserved as much as possible … as the historic environment is considered to be of increasing importance.”
Excerpt from Cotswold Archaeological Ltd Topographical Survey, 1994
“The most significant earthworks recorded within the study area comprised substantial ridge and furrow … the form of ridge and furrow seen within and around the study areas falls within the category known as ‘broad rig’ generally accepted as having origins in the medieval period.”
Source: Transcriptions of wills, maps, photographs, sales particulars and local reminiscences can be seen in the Chipping Campden History Society Archives.