Origin and History
Peasgood's Nonsuch is 'a remarkably handsome apple' with an interesting local history. In 1858 sixteen year old Emma Manby planted a handful of apple pips (probably from a Catshead Codlin) in her parents' garden in Spittlegate, Grantham. One of the pips germinated and when Emma married Stamford draper and town councillor John Peasgood in 1866 she brought the small tree with her to their new home at 56 High Street (later occupied by Brown's seed merchants and currently the store Jack Wills).
The tree eventually fruited in 1870 and came to Thomas Laxton's attention. Laxton was a solicitor in Stamford and would have known John Peasgood professionally and socially. Thomas Laxton introduced the tree in 1872, including it in the Stamford Horticultural Society's exhibit at an RHS show, where it was declared 'one of the most handsome apples in cultivation.' Two years later the RHS awarded Peasgood's Nonsuch a First Class Certificate at the Crystal Palace Show. Local nurseryman Richard Brown paid the Peasgoods £20 for scions to propagate what was to become a very popular garden variety. However, Peasgood's Nonsuch was too soft to travel well and for this reason it was never grown commercially.
'At the meeting of the Fruit Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society, held on the 18th inst, a first-class certificate was awarded to Mr J F Peasgood of Stamford for the seedling apple exhibited by him called Peasgood's Nonsuch, and to which the first prize for the best dish of kitchen apples was awarded at the late Stamford show. The fruit was described as large, round and handsome in shape, reminiscent of the appearance of Cellini and Blenheim Pippin, and was deemed likely also to be a good dessert apple.' Stamford Mercury 27 September 1872 (1)
Within a few years the Peasgood family had left Stamford. John became a saddler's merchant and a promoter and manager of exhibitions and the family moved first to Islington, then to Croydon and finally to Hove.
The fruit is large (it has been known to weigh up to 16 oz),round and attractive. The skin is green becoming yellow, covered with a pink flush that quickly deepens to orange-red with short, broken crimson stripes and brown lenticels. The flesh is rather coarse in texture, juicy and with a sharp, tangy flavour.
Picking, Storing and Using
The apples ripen mid-season and can be kept for a few weeks, filling the gap before the late-season cooking apples become available. The flesh quickly cooks down to a purée and is excellent baked. In Victorian times Peasgood's Nonsuch was also considered a good all-round eating apple, and is delicious in salads.
Growth, Flowering and Pollination
The tree is vigorous and spreading and is a good, regular cropper with reasonable disease-resistance, other than to canker. It is a good variety for heavy clay soil. Peasgood's Nonsuch is partly self-fertile but crops better with a pollinator such as Allington Pippin, Cox's Orange Pippin, or Laxton's Fortune.
'Young Bush eating a Peasgood's Nonsuch'. Illustration from Raymond Bush's 'Tree Fruit Growing' (Penguin 1949).
SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
(1) The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018