A potentially useful resource for groups looking at the history of local orchards is the forthcoming publication from the British Association for Local History. The second edition of its Directory of Internet Sites for Local Historians is due for release this month. Although the intended audience is those interested in local history, it also carries details of sites of with a national scope (eg Garden History, Abandoned Communities) and gives advice on assessing whether a particular site is reliable and trustworthy. The first edition of this directory sold out in a matter of weeks. The updated version (covering over 500 sites) is only available from the British Association for Local History (£4.99, inc p&p – email Dr Gill Draper on email@example.com) .
Another possible source of information on orchard history is the collection of aerial photographs taken of (mainly southern and eastern) England by German Luftwaffe pilots in August and September 1940. Oliver Rackham says ’these magnificent photographs, which record almost every tree, hedge, bush, pingo, and pond in several counties, were captured by the Americans and are now in the National Archives in Washington. The fortunes of war have preserved a convincing record of what was still, in many places, a medieval landscape, much of it since damaged or effaced.’ (O. Rackham, The History of the Countryside, J.M. Dent Ltd, 1993 p.22). I have made a brief attempt at searching the maze which is the online US National Archives, but have not managed to find these photographs. Others who are more persistent may have more success.