A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE

History of Cider

2021 AD

James Crowden. Cider author and poet.

UK

 
James Crowden is an author and poet living in Somerset. Born in Plymouth in 1954. After a varied life with lots of travel he has settled back in Cider Country. A fitting tittle therefore for his new book, Cider Country to be published 19th August this year. I am pleased to be asked to review this book. Very simply this is the best and most comprehensive book on cider to date. A magnum opus of over 450 pages. Written is an entertaining style but packed with information. A lot of the history James has wrestled from the archives of the Royal Society which he visited in 2008 and viewed many original documents not available elsewhere. James has been on a decades long quest to establish the accuracy behind the invention of verre anglais orr strong English glass, sparkling cider and the technology transfer to champagne. This builds on the first lay announcement by Tom Stevenson Wine writer that this really happened. James has spoken  on the subject at the Royal Society. James has written several books on cider and rural life in his home counties. 
 

2020 AD

TeePee Cider goes commercial

Dalefield Aotearoa

On 15th August TeePee Cider opens its on line sales store, having obtained a remote off licence and appropriate documents. The Earl's Drop is also sold  at discerning restaurants and sales outlets in Welling and Wairarapa.

1250 AD

Costermongers

England

Costermonger, coster, or costard is a street seller of fruit and vegetables usually from a barrow in London and other British towns. The term is derived from two words - costard (a now extinct medieval variety of large, ribbed eating apple thought to be similar to a Jersey Bellflower apple. It is mentioned, by the name "Poma Costard", in a fruitier's bill for Edward I in 1292. It was said to resemble a person's head which in Norman French was also costard, although the term probably derived from the Latin costa for rib. 

And monger (seller)

 

1204 AD

Norman England

Egypt

The Normans had a strong tradition of apple growing and cider making.

They introduced many apple types to Britain, the first recorded of which were the Pearmain and the Costard. The Pearmain was particularly valued for cider making. The Pearmain (Old English Pearmain) was first recorded in 1204. The manor of Runham (Norfolk) had to pay to the Exchequer each year 200 Pearmains and 4 hogsheads of cider made from Pearmains

1100AD

William of Malmsbury

Gloucester

William of Malmsbury a trusted early historian noted around 1100 AD that the Severn valley was "clad with peare and apple trees not set nor grafted by Man's hands but growing naturally of their own accord". These fruits were bitter and made good cider and perry. 

60AD

Perry

Egypt

Perry. Much loved by the Romans.( more than cider it would seem) Pliny the Elder noted that Falarian pears were the best and fermented into an alcoholic drink "castomoniale" which we now call perry. Mt Falernus was close to Naples. Pears are now in the Coat of Arms of Worcestershire where most pears in the UK are grown .

55BC

Pre-Roman Britain

Egypt

Julius Caesar is said to have written about trying a fermented apple drink produced in the south east of England when he tried to invade in 55 BC – facing off against the Celtic tribes that lived there at the time. Though the first invasion attempt was a failure, the discovery that the local tribes were fermenting apples was a discovery taken back to France by Caesar’s retreating troops.  

This recorded information would suggest that, as Caesar had already conquered France, he hadn’t at that point discovered cider. If they were making it in France, it was not a common drink. The Romans had not at this time brought modern apples, the Malus pumila, to England. This occurred when the Romans finally successfully invaded almost 100 years later, from 44AD. However it was not until ~1080  apples  more suitable for making cider were brought from Normandy to England 

So, this would suggest the cider like beverage Caesar tasted on the shores of England was made from the local crab apples.

60 BC

Spain

Basque

Apples continued their westward journey all the way to Northern Spain, where the regions of Asturias and Sagardoa in Basque have the perfect climate to grow them. This is called “Green Spain”.

When apples became made into cider instead of being eating is not clear, the Roman and Greek words for strong wine and cider are similar. Certainly it was not easy to make, considerable scare labour was needed to pulversise the apple and then extract the juice before fermentation could occur. With wine just treading the grapes with feet suffice! However cider was made here which the Asturians call Sidra.

Greek geographer Strabo describes sidra in his journey through Spain’s Asturia region in 60 B.C which would pre-date Julius Caesar’s discovery in the UK in 55BC. However, on further analysis it appears that Strabo the Greek was born in 64BC and, barring the possibility of him being a drunk literary toddler, it seems like any such reference in his works is second hand information he acquired from someone else at a later date.

His writings on the topic were likely compiled between 7BC and 23AD and some sources believe he never visited Northern Spain at all.

However the first references to apple orchards  was in Colunga Asturia in AD 803 followed by several others and references to apple presses - lagare a few years later . The newly established Camina de Santiago  then connected Northern Spain to France and pilgrims dispersed apples and cider to France and especially  Normandy where the climate was marginal for wine. The first references here was in 1082.

2004 AD

TeePee Cider started

Wairarapa

It was in September that the first batch of trees were ordered from Bill Struthers of Nga Rakau Nurseries Auckland.

Over the next 5 years over 100 trees of 20 cider varieties were planted BeauVista Orchards 2 hectares of alluvial Wairarapa land. And in 2013 the first Perry pear was grafted from a tree with great provenance, A tree brought out by the Head Gardener of Crystal Palace London as part of an orchard but planted apart. This is now fruiting well and the first perry made in 2018

 

1984 AD

English Apple Cider Brandy

Hereford

Distillation of cider into brandy was well known in UK up until cheap gin supplanted of spirits around 1700 with the Dutch William of Orange on the throne. For example there is a will of the last prior of Monacute Priory noting his still in 1560. There must have been a relatively large industry as there was a tax bracket. First UK Excise license granted to Bertram Bulmer in October 1984 after a long battle with Customs and Excise.

He imported a pot still made in 1905 from Normandy where apple brandy is called Calvados and called it King Offa’s Distillery after the local Anglo Saxon Mercian King. Bertram obtained Royal patronage and the Queen donated oak for making English oak barrels for the brandy maturation. At Bulmer’s Centenary Bertram presented the Queen a bottle of apple brandy made in those casks. Sadly King Offa's distillery has closed but Julian Temperley in Somerset is making excellent apple brandy for many years from 1989. 

1811 AD

Pomona Herefordiensis

Hereford

First illustrated pomology book in the world , by Thomas Knight. Illustrated by Elizabeth Matthews, & engraved by William Hooker.

 

                          The first illustration, the legendary Redstreak. 

1708 AD

Cyder a Poem in two Books: John Philips

Egypt

An amazing poem filled with cider making knowledge on a background of the English Civil war. Phillip Miller the botanist said "there were many books written on the same subject in prose which do not contain so much truth as that poem"

1676 AD

Worlidge published his book on cider , Vinetum britannicum, He advocated the production of cider over that of wine in England

England

Worlidge published his book on cider , Vinetum Britannicum.

He advocated the production of cider over that of wine in England. This book goes into a great deal of scientific information on apple trees and cider making. It was so popular several revisions and editions were produced. !st ed 1676, 2nd 1678, 3rd 1691 and 4th 1696. 

 

1664 Ad

Pomona

London

Pomona is an addendum added to John Evelyn’s book 'Sylva' and is a collection of letters and essays on cider making. It is an extensive resource of the time. Collated by John Beale following the Trades programme of the Royal Society. The project was begun in 1662 but never completed as a separate publication. Not only was the knowledge of cider making published but the key members Beale Oldenburgh Moray Evelyn Neile and Merrett all grew orchards and swapped grafts of desirable cultivars. Robert Hooke even invented a new cider mill for the project. Beale went on to publish his own book on orchards and cider "Herefordshire Orchards, a pattern for all England" in 1658

2008 AD

Andrew Lea: Craft cider Making

Oxford England

Andrew wrote the first modern comprehensive lay book on cider making. He is a retired chemist/ plant biochemist/ food scientist by profession, and after a career at Long Ashton ( Cider) Research Station near Bristol, was the former Head of the Beverage Research section in a contract food analysis and consultancy company. He knows his tannins! He has been very gracious and helpful to many cider makers over the years with his website and the Google group, Cider Workshop

Andrew is an amateur cider maker which started when he worked at the Long Ashton Research Station near Bristol, where he took his Ph.D in the 1970’s. The cider research part of the Station sadly closed in 1981.

LARS was first formed as a private organisation by Robert Neville-Grenville at his farm at Butleigh near Glastonbury in 1893 for cider research This led to the formation of the National Fruit and Cider Institute in 1903 in fields south of the main road through Long Ashton.  In 1912 the Institute became the University of Bristol’s Department of Agricultural and Horticultural Research and its name was changed to the Long Ashton Research Station. But in 1981 two of Long Ashton's major research divisions, the Pomology and Plant Breeding Division and the Food and Beverage Division were closed down. 

1973 AD

Cider Museum

Hereford

The Cider Museum is a museum in Hereford,  England, about the history of cider. The museum was set up as a Trust in the 1970s by Bertram Bulmer, Norman Weston and the Director of Long Ashton Research Station, John Hudson. They realised that unless a collection was started, then much of the story of cider making would be lost.

                      Copy of the rare Pomona Herefordiensis by Knight

The museum is housed in a former cider-making factory at Pomona Place in Hereford, which dates back to 1888 - Bulmer’s Drylands factory site which has underground cellars for the storage of methode champenoise cider Bulmers used to make. 

The museum was never intended to be "the Bulmers Heritage Centre"  but is an independent charity which raises money from admissions, events, the shop, tearoom, grants and meeting rooms. It welcomes the Bulmer's Pensioners once a month to a coffee morning in their old place of work.A lot of the exhibits have been donated and sourced from 'competitor' companies large and small in the UK and Normandie. 

However, a major part of the collection arrived in 2003 when Bulmers was taken over by Scottish and Newcastle Brewery and the rare collection of 18th century cider glasses came to the museum.

Here is an article on the Museum by my friend and curator Elizabeth  Pimblett. And a link to a short video ://www.cidermuseum.co.uk/collection-archive/

 

1887 AD

Percy Bulmer starts the age of industrial cider production

Hereford

The founder was Henry Percival "Percy" Bulmer, the  younger  son of the rector the Reverend Charles H. Bulmer and his wife Mary at Credenhill, just NW of Hereford.

                                            Rev Henry Bulmer 

Using apples from the orchard at his father's rectory glebe and an old stone press on the farm next door, Percy Bulmer made the first cider, upon which the family fortune would be made.

                                                 Percy Bulmer

As a child Percy missed a lot of schooling due to asthma and his prospects were not good. However he is said to have taken his mother's advice to make a career in food or drink, "because neither ever go out of fashion".

He had been primed for cider by his father's interest in cider. In fact he was so esteemed that he wrote a chapter on cider in Hogg and Bull's Pomona , "The Orchard and its products, Cider and Perry" 

In 1889, on leaving King's College Cambridge his elder brother Fred (Edward Frederick Bulmer), turned down the offer of a post as tutor to the children of the King of Siam ( Thailand) to join Percy in his fledgling cider business.

                                                   Fred Bulmer

With a £1,760 loan from their father, the brothers bought an 8 acres (3.2 ha) field just outside the city at Ryelands and built their first cider mill. It was little more than a barn initially.

This grew in several stages as the company grew and became more industrialised.

 

Compare this  to the huge modern stainless-steel computer-controlled cider-making plant that has grown up on a 75 acres Moorfields site nearby.  One tank in ~1980 was the largest vat in the world at 1.6M gallons.

Fred showed an ability in sales, Percy in manufacture and factory organisation. This allowed them to expand the business based on winning several cider competitions in France and UK. They exploited the increasing fast trade routes in the UK that rail enabled and Fred travelled the from the Isle of Wight to Dundee.

Also the increasing shipping of Imperial Britain  was exploited. A ledger entry shows cider was sold to the Hudson Bay company in 1890 and by 1893 they were selling to South Africa. 

Sadly Percy died early in middle age leaving more responsibility on Fred. Fred was an excellent salesman and the company continued to grow ( with specialist help in the manufacturing team lead by Herbert Durham. A friend  of Fred's at college) His  microbiology knowledge helped make the yeast consistent. needed for mass production.)

Fred was a complex person and as well as being an excellent salesman he had a strong social conscience often taking up cudgels on his workers and locals  behalf. He worried about alcoholism and brought in a non alcoholic cider Cidona. 

As the business grew, Bulmers began to accept apples from surrounding farms. They then imported cider varieties from France. The Norman series. They planted orchards themselves. They encouraged the setting up of the National Fruit and Cider Institute which morphed in time into the Long Ashton Agricultural Station. The were also instrumental in the setting up of a trade association the National Association of English Cider Makers NACM which is still active.

By the turn of the century Bulmers did not have the field to themselves. Gaymers started 1891 Whiteways in Devon soon after, Taunton Cider Company in 1913. Factory production enhanced the reputation of cider through its quality uniformity stability and presentation but still the majority was local farm produce. In 1920 ~75% was farm produced and local. 

As Bulmers expanded the supply of apples did not keep up especially in 'off' years and Bulmers started importing apples from Normandy in 1911.

Times were changing though despite and in fact because cider was successful. Cider makers were being bought out by beer breweries to stock their tied houses. Coates Gaymers and Whiteways were acquired by Showerings ( of Babysham fame)  and then by Allied Breweries 1968. The national consumption of beer being 50x that of cider.

Bulmers boxed on in many imaginative ways, extending relationships with local farmers by supplying cider apple trees for fruit production in 1947  by Edward Ball a Bulmers employee  ( who also introduced the cider apple, Ball's bitter sweet) . They started importing cider from France for blending and then a major step in commercialising cider importing apple juice concentrate  from 1939. This initially was to help out in an off year  as Bulmers at that stage were producing once a year, the traditional way with an extended season. Concentrate however opened up the opportunity to year round production and better use of capital and equipment. 

Thus cider became an industrial product. And the decline in quality began from artisan cider which can be superb, and terrible! The rise of mediocrity) 

With the demise of many early directors and principals and Bulmer family, the company went public in in 1970. Initially successful the trading situation in the UK was difficult, and combined with over zealous expansion the company was acquired in 2003 by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, who slashed jobs to restore profitability. Sadly they were also in decline and further rationalisation occurred and were bought out by international  brewers Carlsberg and finally Heineken, and Bulmers now exists only as a brand name. 

1876 AD

Herefordshire Pomona

Hereford

The Herefordshire Pomona is a 19th-century catalogue of the apples and pears that were grown in this county in England Written by Drs Robert Hogg and Henry Bull.

It originated from The Wollhope Naturalist Field Society.  Over a period of about ten years in the late 19th century, the  Club  held an annual autumn show in Hereford featuring the local varieties of apples and pears. The club members were worried that although Herefordshire was famous for its orchards “it was very remarkable that so few of the best varieties of apples should appear in the markets, or the fruit shops”, Dr Robert Hogg, at the time Vice-President of the Royal Horticultural Society RHS , and local doctor and former president of the Woolhope club, Dr Henry Bull, catalogued and described the fruit displayed at the shows.  was one of the first attempts to fully catalogue the existing varieties of English fruit and has been called “a classic of late Victorian natural history”   Only 600 copies were ever printed.  

The book originally appeared in seven issues, the first part appearing in 1878 and the last in 1884. Once complete the seven parts were collected together and published by Jakeman & Carver

                                                 Issue 3, 21 shillings!

Included are 441 original watercolours produced by Alice Blanche Ellis and Edith Elizabeth Bull ( Dr. Bull’s daughter). These were the coloured by William Hooker An odd situation as Hooker had been drawing and engraving plants, some of them fruit cultivars, for the Transactions of the Horticultural Society since at least 1807, but it may be that Hooker, based in London, was not thought a good candidate to illustrate a book so resoundingly regional in its application. And also of interest is that a Frances Stackhouse Acton helped provide some of the illustrations. She was the same Frances Knight who provided some illustrations for Thomas Knight's Pomona Herefordienisis 70 years before!  was a major step forwards in illustration realism and included not only the different fruits, buds, blossoms of the cultivars but also  the blights  which attacked them. 

                                              Lichen and eaten leaves! 

In addition it contained several essays on apples and cider making including "The Orchard and its products Cider and Perry by the Rev Henry Bulmer , the father of Percy Bulmer who established Bulmers Cider. Henry was knowledgable on cider and a friend of Bull."  He also included this lovely poem by Tennyson 

   

1767 AD

Devon Colic

Devon

An illness of abdominal cramps and often leading to death after ingesting lead. This was proved by Sir George Baker to be from the lead used in the cider mills in Devon. The granite stone being too hard to wrought from  a single piece. The joints were filled with lead. See Cider Musings for more details

1763 AD

Cider Tax and USA

Lord Bute’s Government introduces a tax on cider leading to ‘cider riots’ in the West of England.  It also led to the phrase ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’, coined by William Pitt the Elder, describing the layman’s right to protect his private property from entry by the tax man.  This lead to the principle of individual privacy, which is fundamental to the American system of government. In this regard, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution — part of the Bill of Rights — prohibits“unreasonable searches and seizures.”

1662 AD

Dr Christopher Merret and Champagne

London

Dr Christopher Merrett was a medical doctor and scientist and was an early member of the Royal Society.

He was the first to described sparkling champagne bottled in London 1662 in an address to the Royal Society 1662 

“Our wine coopers of recent times use vast quantities of sugar and
molasses to all sorts of wines to make them drink brisk and sparkling and to give them spirit,”

This relied on experimentation and resources from cider making.

Sparkling champagne was first noted in the lay press  in a play by Sir George  Etheridge  1676 , The Man of Mode. 

 

1653 AD

Ralph Austen

Oxford

Wrote one of the first books on cider. “A Treatise of Fruit Trees”.  An early enthusiast linking fruit trees and fruit products with God. Ralph was religious and spirituality and nature were commonly closely entwined. Unfortunately Ralph was a Protestant and the Restoration and the Royal Society wiped him from the history books. No image of him exists today. This is the front-piece of his book.

 

1066 AD

Britain

Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester & Somerset

Following the invasion of Britain by William Duke of Normandy, the apple continued its journey in Europe. Areas especially good for apple growing are the The Three Counties – Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester and also Somerset and Devon although apples are found growing all over UK, probably first in the South East where the Normans settled first.


This scene from the Bayeux Tapestry shows William transporting supplies including a barrel of drink. The Latin text says “Vino” but it is more likely cider. Norman wine was poor at the time the climate not really being warm enough

The first specific written reference to the history of cider in the UK, after the Romans, comes in 1204 AD where cider was used as a form of payment by a manor in Runham, Norfolk  .

Cider was often recorded as been made in the UK by Monks. They were the repository of much knowledge in the Dark Ages and made cider as well as beer and wine for the Sacrements. Initially to preserve food and provide clean drinking in the winter. Water was notoriously bad and food scare. These were also safe drinks for thirsty labourers as the fermentation or brewing sterilises the bacteria water was often harbouring. It’s documented that the Bishop of Bath & Wells, in the south west of England, bought cider presses for his monastery in 1230. The monastery at Ely (Cambridgeshire) was particularly famous for its orchards and vineyards.

A manuscript (circa 1165) of part of the plan of the garden of Christ Church monastery in Canterbury shows a pomerium, an apple garden, consisting of apples and pears for eating and apples for cider making.

100 BCE

Forbidden Fruit.

Rome

The apple has often been considered the fruit that Eve gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden, however the Bible never stated the type of fruit. It was the Renaissance painters that chose the apple.

                                         Titan Adam and Eve 1550

Some scholars suggest the pomegranate, others figs. Apples are unlikely as they were less common and not that suited to the Fertile Crescent, although are noted to have grown in ancient times in Egypt.

The confusion may have arisen out of a play on Latin words. The pun only works in Latin. The word for apple and evil in Latin being the same – malum, (apart from a different accent on the letter ‘a’). From this root comes the latin name for the apple genus Malus , with the eating apple being Malus pumila, and its ancestor Malus sieversii, growing still in the Hindu Kush, close to Almaty a city in Kzakhstan

 

328 BCE

Hindu Kush

Hindu Kush

On the forested flanks of the Tian Shan mountains; Alexander the great is credited with finding apples in Kazakhstan.

Apples started their journey in the Hindu Kush region and have been brought west by traders on the Silk Road and selected for flavour and “eatablity”. The largest city in that region is called Almaty – the etymology of which has a few disputed translations, but all involve Apples. The name may mean “full of apples”, “apple mountain” or “Grandfather of apples”. The city and region around it have archaeological history dating back to around 1000 BC, so the apples were around long before human settlement. Each apple tree has its own unique taste as apples have multiple chromosome that mingle each time a flower is fertilised by pollen from another.

Prior to human intervention however the history of apples is interesting. European fossil beds, such as the Messel Pit in Germany, illustrate the presence of members of the Rosaceae family restricted to low-growing plants with small fruits across Asia and Europe of early and mid-Eocene period. Most have small fruits and seed is distributed by birds. However some living on the edges of woods switched to large animal dispersal to achieve better dispersal in these clearings Malus species included. While larger fruits are energetically more costly than their smaller counterparts, they were selected for on the late Miocene landscape of Eurasia, allowing trees to respond faster to climate change and environmental stressors.

Glaciation then broke up the range into isolated enclaves and further genetic divergence occurred. Megafauna species decreased and now mainly bears and deer fulfill this role. Separate species developed including M sylvestris in Europe, M sieversii in the Kindu Kush area, M orientalis in the Caucasus, and M baccata in Asia. The modern domesticated apple M pumila/domestica shows traces of all 4 apple species , with the last hybridisation occurring on the westward trajectory along the Silk Road by humans.

4 malus species hybridization into M pumila and subsequent grafting of clones of human preference.

 

There is already evidence of the previously thought genetically ‘pure’ M sieversii in the Tian Shan Mountains showing genes from M pumila as seed dispersal along the trade routes operates in both directions.

It is interesting that apples, the most commonly grown fruit is not domesticated like cereals or rice. The clones are maintained by grafting as each seed showing marked genetic diversity.

                                             Crown cleft grafting 

November 2019 AD

Adge Cutler

Somerset

It would be Adge Cutler 89th Birthday today, 19th November. Let’s raise a glass.

The Wurzels at Coates Cidery