Isle of Wight Apples

The Thorneycroft Apples

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. 

King George V  ‘a seedling raised in the Isle of Wight from pips planted in 1900 by Sir John Thorneycroft.  It fruited for the first time about 1920.’ (Taylor – Apples of England).  This is a bright yellow dessert apple with an orange flush and darker stripes.  The flavour is quite sharp and it is juicy.  It is described in The New Book of Apples as an ‘intense rich flavour with pineapple like acidity’
My other reference book (Bultitude) says that it was a seedling grown by Lady Thorneycroft in 1898 from a Cox’s Orange Pippin open pollinated.

Steyne Seedling raised in 1893 at Steyne, Isle of Wight, the home of Sir John Thorneycroft.  It gained an RHS Award of Merit in 1912.  A large, round, slightly flattened apple which is a dessert variety although I have used it for cooking – for apple tarts as it holds its shape.  This is a very attractive smooth apple which crops well.

Sir John Thorneycroft raised by Collister, Head gardener to Sir John  Thorneycroft, first recorded in 1911, in which year it gained an RHS Award of Merit.  It was introduced to commerce by G. Bunyard and sons of Maidstone in Kent.  A round red apple when ripe with some specks and spots of russet.


There were others, all raised in Bembridge by the Thorneycrofts and their gardener but all I have now is a brief description in Taylor’s The Apples of England first published in 1936.  I imagine they were lost during the second World War.  Is there anyone in Bembridge who remembers these apples? Are there any descendents of the Thorneycrofts or their gardeners still living in Bembridge? Any information welcome.

These are ‘the lost apples of the Isle of Wight’.

Edith  ‘A Seedling of the Codlin type from Lady Thorneycroft.  Skin yellow with a slight flush.  Stem cavity heavily coated with russet.  Ripens in September

’Lady Thorneycroft ‘A medium sized dessert apple, raised by Lady Thorneycroft in the Isle of Wight and resembling King of the Pippins but rather rounder.  Eye closed in a puckered basin.  Stem short in a shallow, faintly russeted cavity’

Sir Douglas Haig  ‘A variety raised in the Isle of Wight; resembles a Sturmer Pippin but is more heavily flushed a deep orange red.  The russeting on the base is conspicuous’.

James Sanders ‘A tall, conical apple raised on the Isle of Wight.  Skin pale yellow, half flushed with scarlet and with many scarlet stripes and stippling. Eye closed, apical. Stem short.’
This is not a Thorneycroft apple but may have been raised by Mr James Sanders himself?  Does anyone know?  Les Smith told me he remembered a tall conical apple that was once fairly common in farms and gardens and wonders if this might be it? The Sanders family came from Wellow.  I have drawn a tall striped apple from one of Dave’s pruning customers in the Wellow area.  Any more information welcome.