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our orchards

Wattles orchards start on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills and reach down through the Somerset Levels.

laurie reynolds' picture of wattles

The known history of Wattles Orchards goes back to the time of Queen Elizabeth 1st whom granted a Royal Charter, on the 25 November 1591, which defined the ‘Vicars Choral’ of Wells Cathedral. Within that Charter the lands which comprised Wattles Orchards were listed. The orchards remained in the ownership of the Vicars Choral through the period of the Civil War, Restoration, and, Napoleonic Wars until 21September 1866 when the Choral were forced to sell the land to the Ecclesiastical Commission. The latter then sold the land on the 4 July 1878 to a Squire of Wells: since when it has had only two other owners before Helen and Paul took over its stewardship in 1999. Wattles Orchards are also known as the ‘Vicars Choral Orchards’.

Wattles orchards are currently in the development phase with over 400 'standard' cider apple trees already planted. A further trees are planned for planting over the next few years. We have carefully selected our cider apples trees based upon the tasting of both their apple-juice and the single varietal cider produced by that juice. We finally settled upon Kingston Black, Sweet Coppin and Ashton Bitter. We judged that the resultant blend of these juices would produce a unique cider that is both powerful and has an intense freshness upon the palate.

Wattles has five distinct orchards:

upper gaggy-meadOrchard 1 (Vicars Choral) was planted in 2000 and comprises, in the main, Kingston Black cider-apple trees using a 10 metre by 10 metre spacing pattern. The wildlife value of the orchard lies in the trees, the unimproved grassland beneath and the combined habitat they provide. During the blossom and pollination period between April and June the orchards are lightly grazed using our flock of Wiltshire Horn to ensure the sward has good structure during peak insect activity. This also allows plants to set seed and creatures such as hares, voles, shrews and butterflies to feed and reproduce.

redmondOrchard 2 (Redmond) was planted in 2002 and again comprises Somerset varieties but this time a slightly closer spacing of 10 metre by 8 metre was used to replicate traditional orchard design. This orchard is adjacent to the first and is subject to the same grazing process.

Orchard 3 (Great Tynings) our largest, comprises over 200 'standard' trees, was completed in 2007. This orchard lies on the south west facing slopes of Wattles and is in view of a wide community in Somerset, including areas of outstanding natural beauty. Great care was taken in terms of planting style and form.

Orchards 4 & 5 (Stroud) are currently being planted and so extending into a further two distinct areas on the south-west slopes of Wattles.

The Wattles Calendar


A quiet month. Trees are dormant. Cider is fermenting and maturing. Sheep are getting bigger. Last foot trimming before lambing.


Very busy month. Trees are pruned. New orchards are planted.


Very late nights. Lambing the ewes. Foot trimming and worming of ewes after lambing.


Last years cider starts to be drinkable. Lambs turned out to fields.


Watching the cider apples trees in blossom and the lambs playing.


Pollinated flowers "set", and fruits start to swell. Many apples fall to the ground - the "June drop". Routine twice daily check for fly strike.

July Weaning the lambs. Fly strike routine.
August Cutting hay. Fly strike routine. Remove all ram lambs from flock to separate fields for meat production.

Earliest apples are picked. Fly strike routine. Fresh Wattles lamb delivered to our customers.

October Main crop of apples are picked and the Kingston Black apple pressed into our cider-apple juice. Ram introduced to ewes. All stock foot trimmed. Fresh Wattles lamb delivered to our customers.
November Good month to drink and finish any left over last year's cider! Hedge trimming. Fresh Wattles lamb delivered to our customers.
December Very busy month, milling, pressing our apples into juice and its fermentation into cider.


email: shop@wattles.co.uk