Isle of Wight Apple People and Places
Carisbrooke Priory is a community of Christians, some of whom are paid, most of whom work voluntarily. The Priory and its garden are open from 10am – 4pm (except bank holidays)
It was formerly a community of Nuns but they left in 1989. The Priory was then left empty, although with caretakers to keep it maintained, until 1993 when it became a House of Prayer for Christian Healing. When Chris Lane arrived he described the garden as being totally neglected, the grass hadn’t been cut for six years and it was ‘like a mattress to remove’.
There was an old apple shed with shelves and hand written cards with the apple names. The aim was to grow a variety of apples to keep the community in fruit all year – see the article about St Cecilias Abbey and Sister Anselma.
The Apple Shed is now used as a second hand book store.
Quite a few of the original trees have gone, blown down in the gales or waterlogged after two very wet summers. There is a very large Blenheim Orange (see the entry under Blenheim Orange for a picture), a Ribston Pippin lying over on its side but still productive. Three James Grieve in a row, they are grown as pollinators, as although they are a delicious early apple they have thin skins and drop as soon as ripe – not very marketable and difficult to sell. There are two larger Bramleys, one probably fifty years old and a newly planted Bramley and a Sunset. The other tree by the left hand wall could be Discovery. There are a number of cordons on the walls, the free standing cordons have mostly gone in recent years. These are not much good for flavour, are not identified and are mostly unused. The oldest fruit tree in the garden is a venerable Mulberry, one of the largest on the Isle of Wight.
The Priory garden is a quiet and peaceful place with moss and lichen covered trees, surrounded by high walls and is a member of The Quiet Garden Movement. For locations of gardens in this country and abroad, in countries ranging from Finland to South Africa, look at www.quietgarden.org
The movement was founded 20 years ago by The Revd Phil Roderick, inspired by visiting Christian retreat houses in India, the US and Canada that he felt had both refreshed and replenished him. He asked ‘What in the normal lives of you and me, in city, town and village could be the right context for the essential practice of space and grace?’ A garden. A garden at Stoke Poges became the first quiet garden in 1992 and the movement is now world wide.