Many long standing residents will be aware that Stone’s Orchard was once a thriving local mixed fruit orchard recognised for its abundance of cherries. The land was originally owned by the Woolrych family, and the orchard managed by Walter Stone and his sons as tenant farmers (hence “Stone’s Orchard”) from 1893 to 1960. Much of the land was sold by the Woolrych family to John Dickinson and Company, paper manufacturers which for almost 150 years provided employment at the paper mill. John Dickinson had used some of the land for housing and leisure facilities for the benefit of their employees and sold parts of
the land to Hertfordshire County Council. By the 1970s all that remained of the original site was approx. 3½ acres and John Dickinson applied for planning consent for housing. This was refused and in 1983 Stone’s Orchard was sold to Three Rivers District Council for £1. From the time when the Stone family relinquished the tenancy (and thus the maintenance of the orchard ceased) this well stocked thriving orchard gradually began to fall into a poor condition. However, in the early part of the 1990’s a countrywide organisation, “Common Ground”, was encouraging the reinstatement of old orchards for their wildlife values. A Management Plan followed to rectify the sad condition of Stone’s Orchard; local schools and pupils took part in an annual event to replant many of the known varieties that the Stone family had maintained. This was further brought about by a new initiative, Hertfordshire Orchard Initiative (HOI) which was endeavouring to reclaim many old orchards in the county and, more importantly, safe guarding the known varieties of fruit for the future. In recent years an even larger organisation, East of England Apples and Orchard Project (EEAOP) has encouraged local areas to continue with this task. EEAOP is a registered charity working to guarantee a future for local orchard fruits and orchards. There are around 250 local varieties of apple, pear, plum and cherry that come from the seven counties of the region – Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. These varieties and their orchard habitat need to be preserved for their local significance, genetic diversity, as local food sources and for their landscape and wildlife value. There are also hundreds of ‘lost’ fruit varieties known only from written records.
For further information on the background history of the land and varieties of fruit trees grown
see “Stone’s Orchard, Croxley Green”. Ed. Cllr M Pomfret, published by the
Croxley Green Parish Council, 1995 (approx.) available in Croxley Green Library.
Stone's Orchard is one of the few known historically recorded orchards in the country and thus is a national scientific research resource.
Webmaster will cite any publications brought to our attention (or contact Margaret Pomfret on the CGRA committee).
Powell, M., Harris, A,.and Hicks, M,. (2012). Lichen ecology in traditional Hertfordshire orchards and the implications for conservation. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 44
Stones Orchard Guide
Click on picture to view the guide
This booklet on Stone's Orchard was published 1995c to highlight the importance of one of Croxley Green's historical sites.The beginning of its restoration with many known original fruit tree varieties was carried out by children from five local Junior and Infant Schools. It is one of the few remaining orchard sites in Hertfordshire that has records and memorablia covering over 100 years. Since this was published more information has come to light as well as recorded flora surveys.It is envisaged an updated version will be published subject to funding.
Stones Orchard Survey conducted on
6th May 2014 by Bob Lever
Please look at our Local History page to see our plans for a Croxley Green history project.