New saplings planted by students may bear fruit of historic pears

Old Warden pears
Old Warden pears

Students have planted 30 saplings in hope of bringing back a historic pear grown by 14th century monks which also featured in the works of Shakespeare.

The Old Warden Pear was a mainstay in the medieval home and regularly used by cooks in a pastry pear pie.

It was popular as it would keep from the autumn harvest through to January or February without refrigeration.

It was first cultivated by monks at the Cistercian Abbey near Old Warden, around the 13th century.

And the pies made using the fruit also featured in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale when the clown says “I must have saffron to colour the Warden pies”.

The pears were also part of English troops’ provisions during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

After the 1800s its the popularity steadily declined and it largely disappeared from our cook books with the arrival of the sweet pear.

Agricultural students at Shuttleworth College planted 30 new trees to add to five planted in 2012 which are now bearing fruit - believed to be the only ones in the whole of the UK.

Horticulture lecturer Paul Labous said: “It’s very important to save varieties of fruit as some have died out completely.

“These are extremely useful for cooking as they don’t disintegrate and are very good for storing. It’s also important to regenerate local history.”

The agricultural college have donated two trees bearing the fruit to Jordans Mill in Broom where the pear was first grown.

The newly planted trees are expected to bear fruit in another three years time.