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Harvest Festival

Posted on - 23rd September 2019
Countryfile Live Oxfordshire

In Britain, we have given thanks for successful harvests since time immemorial. Historically, we celebrate this day by singing, praying and decorating our churches with baskets of fruit and food in a festival known as 'Harvest Festival', usually during September, with some churches having a harvest supper. Our school children used to bring in home grown vegetables to swap and display but these have now given way to the more pressing need for donations on tinned and longer lasting items for local foodbanks.

September 22nd is not only the official date of England’s Harvest Festival but it is also the Chairman’s, Hugh Edwards, birthday! Not long ago, a small trio of the Edwards family sat outside a country pub about to enjoy a culinary delight when our plates were suddenly covered with particles of stalks, chaff and dust – a lone combine harvester having just travelled along a nearby field! That is, all except for my clever little daughter, Ava, who turned her plate upside-down. Harvesting is, after all, not without sweat and tears. Truthfully, the same can be said for harvesting a great Moorcroft design – many, many arduous attempts are often made ensuring designs are constructed and coloured to perfection. Rejection of numerous trials is not for the faint-hearted.

To celebrate harvest this year, Moorcroft have decided to reduce in price some of our favourite harvest designs as well as to launch a new design featuring cherries, Cherise by Paul Hilditch, – not only the Chairman’s favourite fruit but also one of those designs that use the Moorcroft cherry-red glazes to perfection. Moorcroft, of course, do not have a cherry red glazes but use layer upon layer of metallic glazes to arrive at the designer’s preferred shades of red. This is a skill acquired through years of discovery and training at Moorcroft, and enables our artists to conjure an array of tempting fruit from Queens Choice to the sunshine-yellows of William’s Pear.

It is said that William Morris, a prolific poet, with his first books of poetry, The Defence of Guinevere (1858) and The Earthly Paradise (1868-70), enjoying considerable popular success, said that one should never weave a tapestry if you could not recite poetry at the same time. I do prefer the English tradition of wassailing – this is the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.

 

‘And all about were dotted leafy trees,
The elm for shade, the linden for the bees,
The noble oak, long ready for the steel
Which in that place it had no fear to feel;
The pomegranate, the apple, and the pear,
That fruit and flowers at once made shift to bear’
- The Earthly Paradise (1868-70)

The Williams' bon chrétien pear, a commonly grown variety of pear in most countries, is also known as the Bartlett pear or the Williams pear, making it ideal for Emma Bossons’s design of an Arts and Crafts pear orchard. A design which we are sure William Morris himself would be happy to feast on. As we are celebrating harvest festivals today, we should perhaps mention that whilst the Williams bon Chretien is a great eating-pear, it is also great for stewing or poaching. Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for poached pears that works best with this variety. Emma is a Moorcroft master in capturing the Moorcroft tradition of fruit designs started by William Moorcroft a century ago. She has journey to the Vale of Evesham for apples in The Codling (2016) and even found a rare pear in the gardens of Cannon Hall. More than anything else, Emma is the creator of Moorcroft’s range of all ranges – the pinnacle of excellence in fruit design, Queens Choice. Whilst Moorcroft were made potter to HRH Queen Mary, the Queen’s name that holds this design is Titania, Queen of Fairies, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Whilst Emma is certainly Queen of Moorcroft fruit, Kerry Goodwin is undoubtedly, Queen of Avian design, having created many wonderful offerings for the RSPB’s Moorcroft collections over the years. Aside from these, Kerry’s birds do pop up in fruit trees. Partridge in a Pear Tree is from the Twelve Days of Christmas range designed by Kerry which gathered together all that is wonderful about English traditions.

Turning back from Christmas to harvest, we ought to mention the Queen Bee herself, Rachel Bishop. Rachel championed the plight of the bumblebee in her outstanding catalogue collection, The Plight of the Bumblebee Collection.

 ‘My “Pollinators” collection focuses on a variety of flowers that attract bees. We can all perhaps plant a little more sympathetically and encourage bees, as well as having beautiful, colourful gardens. The honey bee thrives on holly during the winter, as seen on the ginger jar lid. So, my aim was to show that bees are not just for summer but that they are present all year round and need flowers from all seasons.’ -Rachel Bishop

View The Pollinators Jug

Poppy, rosebay willow herb, clover and bramble are the colourful garden favourites that Rachel chose to adorn The Pollinators Collection, which looks at bees in different seasons. So as we celebrate the harvest festival today and say a goodbye to August’s blackberries, we can enjoy the burgundy hues and superb colour renditions of the blackberries featured in Rachel’s pollinator’s collection – and for this week only, feast on the 40% discount of these pieces. Bramble Revisted by Alicia Amison is also worthy of inclusion into our Harvest Spectacular – her rich blackberries against the clotted-cream ground, conjure up imagery of foraging for berries more than any other. We are not surprised – Alicia is known to exchange a tubelining bag for welly boots as soon as she arrives home.

These images are what keeps the British countryside alive in our hearts, and when young men and women travelled to some foreign field in the last two world-wars, no doubt, these peaceful images of harvest and simple pleasures made them realise that the cost of state aggrandisement was high as fields, like those of Flanders, lay in pools of wired, blooded-mud. Moorcroft’s Forever England Collection, designed by Vicky Lovatt, holds golden cornfields forming a backdrop for crimson poppies. Emotively, this stunning collection represents the perfect evocation of remembrance. So let us celebrate the very best of harvest time.

            

BUY Forever England by Vicky Lovatt              VIEW Flanders Field By Rachel Bishop   

                                                                                                                                        

                                                                  BUY Harvest Poppy 

                                                                    

 

 

 

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