Archive for January, 2010

Scene one from 'The Fruit Stealers', Wells Cathedral  In the North Transept of Wells Cathedral there is a series of carvings, on each of the four sides of a  pillar forming a kind of strip cartoon and popularly known as ‘The Fruit Stealer’. The carvings date from about 1200.

The fruits were always thought to be apples, but more recently it has been suggested that they are grapes. The basket of fruit could be small apples although the pendulous branch above looks more like grapes.  But then they used that particular formalised vine a lot in stiff leaf carving?  I am not absolutely sure that the new certainty is justified. I would be very interested to hear other people’s views?

The photographs here are of plaster casts which are in Wells Museum and made for the Great Exhibition 1851. The actual capitals are high up in the North Transept  and very  tricky to photograph.

Above: Scene one – a man and boy steal fruit.


Scene two- a man approaches the Farmer (in hat) and indicates that the fruit is being stolen.

Scene three: the farmer grabs the thief by the ear.

Scene four:  in a splendidly medieval manner he thumps him on the head with a thick stick.  A lesson to all.

Philippa Threlfall

Philippa Threlfall has based her design of a terracotta plaque – ‘Skills & Pains Bring Fruitful Gains’ around this series of carvings. (J. M.)

Scene two

Scene four

Scene three

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Quince seedling

Several weeks after apple and pear trees shed their leaves, my quince seedling is still in full dark green foliage.  Despite temperatures below freezing and a covering of snow for a few days, it shows no sign of dropping its leaves.

Can anyone tell me why this is might be?  It was raised from seed (from a shop-bought quince) sown outdoors last Spring.  I wonder whether quince enters dormancy at a lower air temperature than other fruit trees or sometimes perhaps not at all – a four-year old quince sapling in the garden has retained three or four leaves, but these are yellow and brown rather than green.

Should I let nature take its course or should I remove the leaves before next spring?  Some are showing the red spots symptomatic of quince leaf blight and the recommended treatment for this is to ‘rake up and burn the leaves’.

Heather Hooper

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I live in a town in Belgium called Poperinge. In the Middle Ages there was a pear known as the ‘poperin pear’ that was famous in England and owes its name to our town, as it was grown here. It was even mentioned in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Shakespeare. Unfortunately, it has disappeared here. It’s a long shot, but I was wondering if there might be a trace of this pear in any British collections?

Emmanuel Ingelaere

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