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 to three and a quarter wide, and the same in height; conical, and prominently ribbed, the ribs extending from the base to the apex, where they terminate in the form of small knobs in the basin of the eye. Skin, deep yellow over the whole surface, except on the side next the sun. where there is a blush of reddish orange. Eye, closed, or nearly so, with erect convergent segments, which are slightly divergent, set in a narrow knobbed cavity. Stamens, basal; tube, conical. Stalk, short, quite inibedd in the deep angular cavity, which is slightly russety. Flesh, white, tender, juicy, and with a mild acidity. Cells, elliptical; abaxile.
Fruit, large, three inches and a quarter broad, and the same in height; oblong, nearly as broad at the apex as at the base, with prominent ribs on the sides, which extend into the basin of the eye, and terminate in several knobs round the crown. Skin, smooth and unctuous, pale green, but with a brownish tinge next the sun, and strewed with minute russety dots. Eye, large and open, set in a large, angular, and rather deep basin. Stamens, median; tube, conical, inclining to funnel-shape. Stalk, short and slender for the size of the fruit, inserted in a shallow and angular cavity. Flesh, tender, juicy, and sweet, with a pleasant, acid, and slightly perfumed flavour. Cells, ovate; abaxile.
One of our oldest and best culinary apples; it is in use from October to January. The tree is a strong and vigorous grower, and attains the largest size, and though not an abundant bearer during the early period of its growth, it is much more productive as it becomes aged.
In the Horticultural Society's Catalogue of Fruits, and also in Lindley's Guide to the Orchard, this is made synonymous with the Costard of Kay, which is undoubtedly an error, the Costard being distinct.
The Catshead is one of our oldest varieties, and was always highly esteemed for its great size. Phillips; in his poem on Cyder, says - "---- - Why should wo sing the Thrift, Codling or Pomroy, or of pimpled coat The Russet, or the Cat's Heaa's weighty orb, Enormous in its growth, for various use Tho' these meat, tho' after full repast, Are oft requir'd, and crown the rich dessert."
In Ellis's "Modern Husbandman," he says the Catshead is "a very useful apple to the farmer, beause one of them pared and wrapped up in dough serves with little trouble for making an apple dumpling, so much in request with the Kentish farmer, for being part of a ready meal, that in the cheapest manner satiates the keen appetite of the hungry ploughman, both at home and in the field, and, therefore, has now got into such reputation in Hertfordshire, and some other counties, that it is become the most common food with a piece of bacon or pickle-pork for families."