Our Apple For November: Dumelow's Seedling
As you tuck into your first mince-pie of the festive season, you might be interested to learn that acre upon acre of the now almost forgotten Dumelow's Seedling was once grown for the specific purpose of making delectable mincemeat. Not that mincemeat was the variety's only claim to fame, for it was also reputed to be Queen Victoria's favourite baked apple.
It was raised in the late 1700s by Richard Dumeller, a farmer of Shackerstone, near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire; 'Dumelow' was the local pronunciation of his name and the variety was originally introduced as Dumelow's Crab. A tree came to be planted in the gardens of nearby Gopsall Hall, whose owner, Richard Curzon-Howe, seems to have introduced it to the nurseryman Richard Williams (of Williams bon Chrétien pear fame) of Turnham Green near Chiswick.
Dumelow's Crab was a triumph, although its many and various names can make it hard to track through time. Williams presented it to the Royal Horticultural Society under its original name, but in 1819 it was re-christened Wellington, in celebration of the Duke's triumphant return from the Peninsular War. By the 1850s it had acquired its current name of Dumelow's Seedling and become the nation's favourite cooking apple.
The large, irregular fruit has a creamy texture and sharp, fragrant flavour that produces a much nicer baked apple than the now ubiquitous Bramley. It is also a good keeper; in fact in northern England it was sometimes called the May Day apple because of its unusually long storage life.
The tree is large and spreading with attractive blossom. It is more frost-resistant than Bramley, but does have a tendency to bear heavy crops only every other year - probably the cause of its eventual commercial downfall.
Photograph courtesy of © Melbourne Mermaid via Flickr
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018