The Egremont Crab Fair in Cumbria dates from 1267
2016 Friday 16th September / Saturday 17th September (3rd Saturday of September)
My Dad won 1st and 2nd prize for his heritage apples. Which made him very happy. It also brought back happy memories of his wife (my Mom).
The Egremont Crab Fair in Cumbria dates from 1267 and is held annually in September. It is believed that the traditional fair has been held continuously since this time, except for unavoidable interruptions during the War years. It grew out of the medieval tradition whereby serfs to the Manor of Egremont gathered wild fruits, and with their vegetables, corn and animals went to pay their dues to the Lord of the Manor. This also became an opportunity to celebrate the end of the harvest by taking part in sporting games. The Lord of Egremont started a tradition of giving away crab apples and the Parade of the Apple Cart is still the central event, where crab apples are thrown to the crowds which throng Main Street.
Egremont Crab Apple Fair – the “scattering of apples” at Midday, now known as the Parade of the Apple Cart.
Crab apples are also referred to as wild apples, a more romantic name, perhaps. There are three native species, Malus domestica, M. baccata and M. sylvestris, which you occasionally see in woodlands. These were used to breed the domestic apple. One theory is that the name “crab” is associated with the crooked gait of a crab which figuratively follows on to mean contrary – perhaps because the fruit is sour and astringent. As the oldest cultivated tree in Europe, crab apples are steeped in mythology.
Petriﬁed remains of apple slices on saucers have been found in tombs dating back over 5,000 years. The Greeks and Romans planted apple trees throughout their respective empires. The healing properties of apples were recognized by traditional healers wherever the tree appeared.
The Crab Apple is a member of the Rose family, which includes other magical British ogham trees, such as Rowan, Hawthorn and Blackthorn, as well as other fruit trees such as the Cherry, Plum and Pear trees (Paterson, page 106).
In Scotland, the Crabapple is the plant badge of Clan Lamont, whose Highland territories were around Cowall and Argyll.
(My Father’s Welsh/English family has married into the Clan Lamont.)
September 19th, 2015
Today, Saturday, Dad took Mom out of her nursing home to visit their town’s traditional Apple Fair established in 1267 (making it one of the World’s oldest fairs). One of the ancient traditions is for everyone to line the main street (the same layout as in 1200) and catch apples from a moving cart. My Mom took the opportunity to meet up with neighbours and friends, wave to children on the motorised railway, admire the traditional funfair Big Wheel and Horse Carousel. Her husband (my Dad), and a neighbour caught 7 apples for her.
Another neighbour had secretly entered her heritage apples into the Flower and Fruit Show, my parents walked into the marque and Mom had won first prize with a medal and big red rosette. The local newspaper photographer took her photograph, smiles, she took up many joyful poses. She was so happy, sharing her apples and showing her medal and rosette upon returning to the nursing home.
Egremont Russet Apples – tasting slightly smoky, nutty, quite unlike anything else.