Isle of Wight Apples
The Story of Little Pax 2014 - a brand new Isle of Wight Apple
Dave and I first met and tasted Little Pax in 2006/7. We ran the Apple Tent at Afton Park for the Isle of Wight Apple Weekend organised by Chris and Barney Barnes and this was featured each year in the local paper, the IOW County Press. I also wrote a small booklet called The Isle of Wight Apple Book which was published in 2006. One way or another Sister Anselma had heard of us and invited us to come to St Cecilia’s Abbey to see her apples and look at Little Pax. (2014 - Sister Anselma has told me that she was given our phone number by Rowan Adams who had met us at Apple Weekend and had learnt pruning from Dave)
We were deeply impressed by the number of apples at St Cecilias and Sister Anselma’s work and experience, but what Sister Anselma particularly wanted to show us was a small tree at the side of the orchard which she had raised from a seedling. It had grown into a small but well shaped tree and she had realised the fruit was something really special with a delicious rich flavour. At this time it was known as Parvulum Mysterium or Little Mystery, later changed to Little Pax. (On my painting I have named it Pax Cordis Jesu which was a misunderstanding - Pax Cordis Jesu is the name of the community at St Cecilia's)
Photo - copyright Nick Dunn
The apple also kept well which was important as the purpose of fruit in an orchard like this is to supply fruit for as long a period of time as possible without modern, chemical methods of storage. Sister Anselma had built the shelves in the apple store herself out of reclaimed materials in a cold north facing position and installed blinds and shades with all the apples on slatted shelves. However good the cold store, apples inevitably lose some flavour but Little Pax still had an impressive amount of flavour in January and Sister Anselma confirmed it kept well for longer.
We agreed that the tree had not been grafted and it was a seedling and therefore a new apple. Sister Anselma then sent the apple to RHS Wisley for confirmation that it was indeed a new apple and possibly worth propagating for sale.
When we next visited St Cecilia’s at Christmas (2008) it had been confirmed that it was a new apple. I was given some apples from the store and painted and drew it for my records and gave Sister Anselma a copy. In 2010 Sister Anselma contacted Frank P. Matthews and Nick Dunn with a view to propagation and sales. At this point the name changed to Little Pax. After four years of trials the apple is now for sale nationwide through Frank P. Matthews, a donation from every sale will go to St Cecilia’s Abbey.
The photo at the top of this article was taken in January with apples taken from the store. The other photos in this article were taken by Nick Dunn of Frank P Matthews. Please do not reproduce in any way.
Photos - copyright Nick Dunn
For a full description and a painting of this apple please go to the Alphabetical list and look under Little Pax
Link to Orange Pippin - www.orangepippin.com/apples/little-pax (if you didn't find this article through the Orange Pippin website) Apples will be on sale from Orange Pippin later this year.
In the 1890s Sir John Thorneycroft and his wife Lady Thorneycroft raised several apples in their garden in Bembridge. Three have stood the test of time and are commercially available today and growing in Isle of Wight gardens, although I only know King George V from the trees at RHS Wisley Gardens.