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The English Apple Man


23rd Feb 2024 - East Malling Trust acquires Brogdale Farm

The East Malling Trust would like to announce the acquisition of Brogdale Farm


The home of the world's largest collections of fruit trees has been purchased by The East Malling Trust, the charity that champions the advancement of science in horticulture and agriculture.


The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm is a living history and home to a rich variety of heritage fruit, curated by Reading University on behalf of DEFRA, with wardens from the Brogdale Collections charity managing access to it.


Its orchards contain more than 4,000 different varieties of apples, pears, cherries, plums, and other fruits and nuts, and the 150-acre farm has become a hub for fruit enthusiasts, researchers, and visitors from around the globe.


Bradbourne House is home to the Hatton Fruit Garden, formerly the walled kitchen garden, which takes its name from Sir Ronald Hatton, one of the most distinguished horticulturists of his generation, and which celebrates the art of tree forming and training fruit trees in different shapes.


History of Bradbourne House


Bradbourne House was previously the family home of the Twisden family since the early 18th century and was put up for sale when John Ramskill Twisden died without an heir. The house as it is seen today was built between 1712 and 1715 although there was a Tudor house on the site built in the late 1500s which has been considerably changed and altered over the years.


Bradbourne House remained in the ownership of one family, the Twisdens, for around 400 years before being purchased by what is now The East Malling Trust in 1938.


The House and park is closed to the public, but can be visited as part of a tour . For more information please contact The East Malling Trust


Below: Bradbourne House today



The two organisations have a shared commitment to advancing research, conservation, and education in the field of fruit genetics. Dating back over 100 years, the East Malling campus has been at the forefront of pioneering advances in horticulture and has made substantial contributions to the fruit industry. The acquisition of Brogdale Farm further strengthens the Trust's commitment to fruit research and development.





Click to see HISTORY of East Malling Trust


From its headquarters at Bradbourne House, The East Malling Trust actively supports the horticulture industry through its close working relationship with NIAB East Malling, based at the charity's 500-acre estate and science campus.


Below: Brogdale Farm


Announcement by Dr Oliver Doubleday, Chairman of the board of Trustees of The East Malling Trust.


"We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Brogdale Farm and we look forward to playing our part in maintaining the home of this nationally important collection, which fits perfectly with our charitable objectives," said Dr Oliver Doubleday, Chairman of the board of Trustees of The East Malling Trust. The move is consistent with our mission to advance scientific knowledge and innovation in horticulture; fits with our property portfolio; and utilises our existing estate management skills. We are committed to preserving and enhancing the unique heritage of Brogdale Farm and its collection, and improving the visitor experience. We also have an existing gene bank within the East Malling estate, and there is the potential for collaboration to drive forward future research that will benefit the fruit industry and society as a whole."




Below: Part of the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm


In addition to the Brogdale Collections, the site is also home to 23 businesses, including a cafe popular with visitors, a brewery and other businesses.


Click on Video of a Charitable Funded Visit to Brogdale Collection


Below: Staff at East Malling Trust 1923


East Malling is unique in the world as a research centre for horticulture, especially for tree fruit. For instance, one part of the site was devoted to fruit storage and housed a facility with cold stores designed and built to emulate the conditions onboard ships that carried fruit from around the world to the UK.


As well as the history of Bradbourne House and the Twisden family, part of our archive charts this scientific heritage. This began in 1913 when its founder requested money from the Board of Agriculture to start an experimental station to support local fruit growers in desperate need of help to combat problems with fruit growing in Kent, the 'Garden of England'.


The pressures of wartime on the research station, and the growers that it supported, forced research activity to all but stop in favour of growing food. Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960), the only official female war artist in the Second World War, spent most of her life in Kent where she painted works such as 'A 1944 Pastoral: Land Girls Pruning at East Malling'. The original painting is now on display in the Manchester City Gallery.


Below: 'A Pastoral: Land Girls Pruning at East Malling ; by Evelyn Dunbar



There is no other research station in the UK like East Malling and our archive collections are unique.


For more information on the work of The East Malling Trust visit:


Click on: Brogdale Collections website


My farming friends will be aware of the sad loss to the Kent farming fraternity of Ken Jenner who farmed at Marden. His son Nigel has informed me Ken's Memorial service will be held at Marden Church on Friday 8th March at 2.30pm


That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man