This section is from the book "The Fruit Manual: Containing The Descriptions And Synonyms Of The Fruits And Fruit Trees Of Great Britain", by Robert Hogg. Also available from Amazon: The Fruit Manual.
Fruit, large, three inches and a quarter wide, and two inches and three-quarters high; round, narrowing a little towards the eye, and obscurely ribbed. Skin, dull yellow tinged with green, but changing to clear yellow as it ripens; marked with russet in the basin of the eye, and strewed over its surface with large russety dots. Eye, small and closed, with long acuminate segments, set in a narrow, deep, and even basin. Stalk, short, inserted in a moderately deep cavity. Flesh, yellowish, tender, crisp, juicy, sugary, and perfumed.
An excellent apple, either for culinary purposes or the dessert. It is in use from October to January.
This was raised by Michael Bland, Esq., of Norwich. The seed was sown on the day of the jubilee which celebrated the 50th year of the reign of George III., in 1809, and the tree first produced fruit in 1818. It is not a variety which is met with in general cultivation, but deserves to be more widely known.
Blenheim Orange. See Blenheim Pippin.
Fruit, large, being generally three inches wide, and two and a half high; globular, and somewhat flattened, broader at the base than the apex, regularly and handsomely shaped. Skin, yellow, with a tinge of dull red next the sun, and streaked with deeper red. Eye, large and open, with short stunted segments, placed in a round and rather deep basin. Stamens, median; tube, funnel-shaped. Stalk, short and stout, rather deeply inserted, and scarcely extending beyond the base. Flesh, yellow, crisp, juicy, sweet, and pleasantly acid. Cells, open, obovate; axile.
A very valuable and highly esteemed apple, either for the dessert or culinary purposes, but, strictly speaking, more suitable for the latter. It is in use from November to February.
The common complaint against the Blenheim Pippin is that the tree is a bad bearer. This is undoubtedly the case when it is young, being of a strong and vigorous habit of growth, and forming a large and very beautiful standard; but when it becomes a little aged, it bears regular and abundant crops. It may be made to produce much earlier, if grafted on the paradise stock, and grown either as an open dwarf or an espalier.
This valuable apple was first discovered at Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, and received its name from Blenheim, the seat of the Duke of Marlborough, which is in the immediate neighbourhood. It is not noticed in any of the nursery catalogues of the last century, nor was it cultivated in the London nurseries till about the year 1818.
The following interesting account of this favourite variety appeared some years ago in the Gardeners' Chronicle : - "In a somewhat dilapidated corner of the decaying borough of ancient Woodstock, within ten yards of the wall of Blenheim Park, stands all that remains of the original stump of that beautiful and justly celebrated apple, the Blenheim Orange. It is now entirely dead, and rapidly falling to decay, being a mere shell about ten feet high, loose in the ground, and having a large hole in the centre; till within the last three years, it occasionally sent up long, thin, wiry twigs, but this last sign of vitality has ceased, and what remains will soon be the portion of the woodlouse and the worm. Old Grimmett, the basket-maker, against the corner of whose garden-wall the venerable relict is supported, has sat looking on it from his workshop window, and while he wove the pliant osier, has meditated, for more than fifty successive summers, on the mutability of all sublunary substances, on juice, and core, and vegetable, as well as animal, and flesh, and blood. He can remember the time when, fifty years ago, he was a boy, and the tree a fine, full-bearing stem, full of bud, and blossom, and fruit, and thousands thronged from all parts to gaze on its ruddy, ripening, orange burden; then gardeners came in the spring-tide to select the much-coveted scions, and to hear the tale of his horticultural child and sapling, from the lips of the son of the white-haired Kempster. But nearly a century has elapsed since Kempster fell, like a ripened fruit, and was gathered to his fathers. He lived in a narrow cottage garden in Old Woodstock, a plain, practical, labouring man; and in the midst of his bees and flowers around him, and in his 'glorious pride,' in the midst of his little garden, he realised Virgil's dream of the old Corycian : 'Et regum eqnabat opes animis.'
"The provincial name for this apple is still 'Kempster's Pippin,' a lasting monumental tribute and inscription to him who first planted the kernel from whence it sprang."