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 and handsome; pyri-form, rounded at the eye. Skin, smooth, green at first, and changing to yellow mixed with green, and with a faint tinge of orange and obscure streaks of red on the exposed side. Eye, open, with stout, erect segments, not at all depressed. Stalk, an inch and a half long, inserted without depression, and with several fleshy folds at the base. Flesh, white, tender, buttery, and melting, with a fine, brisk, vinous flavour, and nice perfume.
The tree is one of the strongest growers of any variety in cultivation; particularly in its early growth, the shoots are very thick and succulent, but short. It forms an upright, tall, and handsome tree when grown in an alluvial soil, or in a deep sandy loam, with a cool subsoil; but if the soil is stiff, cold, and humid, it very soon cankers. It is a good bearer, and when grown in a soil favourable to it we have seen it produce an abundance of very large, handsome, and excellent fruit. It has the property in many seasons of producing sometimes a profusion of bloom at Midsummer, and a second crop of fruit, which, however, is never of any value, from which circumstance it has been called Poire Figue, Figue Musquée, and Deux fois l'an.
The only account of this ancient variety I have seen is by an English writer, who says, "It was raised from seed of the Cuisse Madame, by a person of the name of Williamson, a relation of Williamson, whom Grimwood succeeded in the Kensington Nursery." Grimwood succeeded to the Kensington Nursery about the middle or latter half of the last century, but the Windsor Pear is mentioned by Parkinson, in his Paradisus, in 1629, a'century before the Kensington Nursery was in existence, and was even then "well knowne to most persons;" he says it "is an excellent good peare, will beare fruit sometimes twice in a yeare, and (as it is said) three times in some places."
There can be no doubt that the Windsor Pear is of foreign origin, and that it is the Bellissime and Supreme of the early French pomologists, but it must not be confounded with the Bellissime d'Éte of these later writers, and of Duhamel, who has made a sad mess of many synonymes, and on whose authority in these particulars there is no reliance to be placed. It seems at a very early period to have been distributed over Europe. It is mentioned by J. Baptista Porta, in 1592, as being cultivated about Naples, under the name of Pero due volte I'anno; and even in our own country we find it flourishing earlier than this; for Sir Hugh Plat, in giving the authority of "Master Hill," who lived about 1563, "Why trees transplanted doe alter," says, "Trees that bears early, or often in the year, as pear trees upon Windsor-Hill, which bear three times in a year; these though they be removed to as rich, or richer soil, yet they do seldom bear so early, or so often, except the soil be of the same hot nature, and have the like advantages of situation, and other circumstances with those of Windsor. And, therefore, commonly the second fruit of that pear tree being removed, doth seldome ripen in other places." This is the first notice we have of the Windsor Pear in England; and it is, doubtless, from the circumstance of those growing on Windsor Hill that the variety received its name. Early in the season, and before the earliest varieties of our gardens are nearly ripe, there are considerable quantities of the Windsor exposed for sale in the Covent Garden Market, which are imported from Portugal, and which are said to be shipped at Oporto. We never could ascertain the name under which they were imported, but have not the slightest doubt about the identity of the variety.