Ilmington Apple Walk, WarwickshireHow old does an event need to be before it is cited as a tradition? Or is it what the event commemorates that makes it a folk custom?
The village of Ilmington , on the edge of the Cotswolds , is the highest in Warwickshire. The area was once heavily wooded; indeed the very name of the settlement is derived from the elms that grew in such profusion there. But it is another type of tree that has given the place a special folk custom, albeit of rather recent origin – the apple tree.
The lovely village church, Norman , though much altered, houses a map of the local apple orchards or at least where they once stood. A resident, June Hobson, organised the villagers to create an embroidery based on old maps of the area, highlighting the preponderance of apple orchards. This project was inspired by Apple Days held in Ilmington, where children from the village school walked the lanes and village streets, rediscovering the multiplicity of apple varieties grown in the village and its surrounds. In turn the Apple Map has reinforced that tradition of Apple Walks, with October the favoured month for them, a visit to the church and the embroidery the required precursor of such rambles now.
The recognition and preservation of old apple varieties is certainly a laudable goal in an age where idiot bureaucracy would have us only deal in registered varieties, eventually limiting the gene pool. Long may the people of Ilmington celebrate the diversity of their apples and the place of that fruit in their heritage.
More British Folk Customs?