Finding Betty Prosser
Investigating a derelict orchard in Grosmont we found several varieties which we could not identify. One of them was this ancient Perry pear whose fruit was recognised by Jim Chapman of the Hartpury National Perry Pear Trust as Betty Prosser.
The entry in Charles Martell’s Pear book describes Betty Prosser as critically rare and states that there are only 12 known trees at Corse in Gloucestershire. However there appears to be documentary evidence of a link with Monmouth and it is thought that the family took scions with them when they moved from the Monmouth area to Corse. Who Betty Prosser was is not known.
At a Welsh Perry & Cider talk we met Ian who is the guardian of three more Betty Prosser trees south of Monmouth near the Wye Valley. Here is one of his Betty Prosser trees still in good health.
Ian is a naturalist, smallholder and poet and he kindly lets us collect the fruit to make Perry. The trees are too tall to hand pick or shake so he lays out tarpaulins for us.
The Finding of Betty Prosser
Barcode tested, modern science.
Young buds taken, DNA
has now found their name.
Who she was we’ll never know,
but ‘Betty Prosser’ who was lost
in Wales, has once again been found.
Two centuries and more they grew
hiding, fruit and flower skirted here,
this Monmouth perry speciality.
Fifty feet of crowded blossom now.
The heavy crop will be a test of strength;
some weaker lengths will break,
leave gnarled and twisted bough.
My task is keeping up the line,
extend the time she will produce.
Lay down the sheets in autumn.
Collecting fruits to make the juice;
ferment it through a year.
So many more can nurse a glass
of ‘Betty’, raise it in good cheer.
IR April 1991
|30th Sept 2020||166 litres pressed SG 1.056 150ppm SO2 added|
|7th Apr 2021||Bottled 213 x 750ml cork seal SG 1.012 ABV 5.4%|