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University keen to safeguard heritage of original Bramley Apple tree

Nottingham Trent University is in discussions about becoming the new custodian of the original Bramley apple tree.

Bramley apple tree
The original Bramley apple tree (Image: Roger Payne/

The university is keen to try to prolong the life of the tree – which is dying due to an incurable honey fungus infection – and to safeguard its important heritage for generations to come.

The tree was grown from a pip more than 200 years ago in the Nottinghamshire town of Southwell, a short distance from the university’s Brackenhurst Campus.

The university is in discussion with the current owner, Coulson Howard, regarding the purchase of two cottages on Church Street – which would be refurbished and used for postgraduate student accommodation – as well as the rose garden containing the tree.

If all goes through as planned, horticulture staff and students from the university’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences would carry out an initial assessment of the tree.

They would then set about carefully tending it with the aim of prolonging its life.

Grafts of the original tree would also be replanted at the Brackenhurst Campus.

The aim would also be to open up the rose garden to members of the public, as well as develop plans to formally celebrate the history and heritage of the Bramley, which is the UK’s most popular cooking apple.

Mary Ann Brailsford planted the pip between 1809-1815. More than 40 years later new occupier Matthew Bramley allowed local gardener Henry Merryweather to take cuttings from the tree to grow in his family’s nursery – provided they had the name ‘Bramley’s Seedling’.

The first recorded sale of a Bramley was on October 31, 1862, when Merryweather sold three Bramley apples for two shillings.

In 1900 the tree blew down in a storm but managed to survive.

Today there are more than 300 Bramley growers in England, with about 83,000 tonnes of the apples grown annually in the UK alone. The apples are very large and typically used in desserts.

“The Bramley’s Seedling is the nation’s favourite cooking apple and the original tree is one of the most significant and well-known,” said Professor Robert Mortimer, Dean of Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.

He said: “Unfortunately it will inevitably perish due to disease, but we would like to try to preserve this great tree for the people of Southwell for as long as possible. It has such huge cultural significance for the town and for Nottinghamshire, but also nationally and globally.

“We want to play our part in recognising its importance.”

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    Nottingham Trent University was named Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The award recognises NTU for its strong student satisfaction, quality of teaching, overall student experience and engagement with employers.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has been awarded the highest, gold, rating in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework for its outstanding teaching and learning.

    NTU is one of the largest UK universities with nearly 28,000 students and more than 3,500 staff across four campuses, contributing £496m to the UK economy every year. It is one of the most environmentally-friendly universities, containing some of the country’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings.

    The University is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable Nottingham Trent to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is the sixth biggest recruiter of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the country and 95.6% of the its graduates go on to employment or further education within six months of leaving.

    NTU is home to world-class research, winning The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 - the highest national honour for a UK university. It recognised the University’s pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula and combat food fraud.

    With an international student population of approximately 2,600 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

University keen to safeguard heritage of original Bramley Apple tree

Published on 19 October 2017
  • Subject area: Geography, horticulture and environment
  • Category: Press office; School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences

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