The Mutton Street Marvel is an apple I raised from a graft, the origins are quite a story.
Back in the heyday of the Flax industry in West Dorset, there was a population of around 4,000 directly employed at it’s peak. The industry began as early as 1211, according to historical documents held in Bridport Museum. In 1213 King John ordered “to be made at Bridport, night and day, as many ropes for ships both large and small cables as you can, and twisted yarns for cordage for ballistae”.
At the top of the Marshwood Vale lies Mutton Street, a long lane that begins by St Marys church in Marshwood, and heads down through the Vale towards Bridport. This lane had some 42 properties along it’s length, mostly very small cottages of the farm labourers employed within the Flax and Hemp industry.
One such site can be found just below Higher Sminhay, an ancient farm dating back at least 600 years. Just to the side of an old orchard you can plainly see the location of one of the original 42 cottages, long gone but it has left it’s mark on the land.
Growing from the hedge is an old apple tree, not much to look at but it caught me eye as the apples would cling on well into the New Year, at one stage they were still there in late February, having survived some massive winter storms. Every Year without fail, the hedges were hacked back by tractor and flails, a “Marvel” the tree survived at all the pounding it was given. I seriously hate tractor mounted flail hedge cutters, they ruin hedges.
The owners of the land gave me permission to take some apples for identification, and some graft wood to see if I could get them to grow on. The apples were sent to Brogdale in Kent for ID, a few weeks later a letter arrived confirming what I already suspected, the apple was an unknown, therefore mine to name. This was confirmed again in 2017 after being genetically tested, it was definitely unknown.
So there we have it, the Mutton Street Marvel. A 100% Dorset Apple, time will tell as to the cider it produces, I might be able to make a couple of gallons this Year, to see just what it is like.