Cider Musings


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.