Young apple trees in orchard – May 2015
Maps from the nineteenth century show many orchards around Chorleywood. Most have disappeared under buildings, though the names remain such as Orchard Drive, Cherry Tree Lane.

Now a local volunteer group, the Chorleywood Community Orchard, has created an orchard in the grounds of Chorleywood House, and the first 24 apple trees were planted in February 2009. There are now 140 fruit trees – apples, plums, damsons, cherries and crab apples. Most are rare heritage varieties once specific to Hertfordshire and other local counties. The trees are still immature so are not yet cropping prolifically but they are already producing splendid blossom in the spring. All the orchard maintenance is carried out by the volunteers.
Apple Day is traditionally celebrated in the Orchard on the first Saturday in October, when visitors. can join in apple pressing to make juice and many children’s activities, buy locally grown apples and homemade cakes, jams and chutneys, and enjoy barbecued hot dogs with pork and apple sausages. Sadly, however, a shortage of volunteers means the future of this popular event is currently uncertain.

In 2013 Chorleywood Cider Club was founded as an offshoot of the Orchard group. From modest beginnings the Club is now brewing quality craft cider from local apples and selling it to great acclaim at local events. The ancient custom of Wassailing has also been revived by the Club. This old folk tradition, which takes place in mid-winter, involves gathering in the Orchard after dark, singing songs and drinking mulled cider, all with the aim of encouraging the trees to bear bountiful crops of fruit in the coming year.

The Orchard is situated next to the Lawn Cemetery, entrance through the large iron gate in Lady Ela Drive. New members of the Chorleywood Community Orchard are always welcome – see the Chorleywood Community Orchard website for more information: http://chorleywoodorchard.org.uk.

Cider enthusiasts can find out more about the activities of Chorleywood Cider Club at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/962351360446429