S E P T E M B E R
This page will change from month to month - perhaps you can help us with information on seasonal fruit and vegetables, seasonal dishes, observations of customs and the natural world. Contact us - e-mail: info [at] commonground . org . uk.
September the seventh ... ?
September was the seventh month in the Roman calendar - 'septem' means 'seventh' in Latin (and can still be seen in the French 'sept'). Later the Romans added some new months during the winter, where there hadn't been any previously, and September moved to ninth, while confusingly keeping its 'seventh' name.
What's happening in September?
What's in Season?
What's happening in September?
- indicates an extract from England In Particular
Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Sowerby Bridge, W.Yorks.
"For hundreds of years rushes, hay or straw have been ceremonially strewn on the floors of churches (and houses) to make them warmer underfoot, to sweeten the air and to muffle the sound of heavy boots. Mixing the prosaic and the symbolic, rush-bearing ceremonies once took place all over the country, but maintained greater significance in the North West on the local saint's day or wakes week ... At Sowerby Bridge the cart is pulled by sixty local men wearing Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs, and young women take it in turns to ride on top. The cart is accompanied by music and six teams of morris dancers. From mid-August a team of ten to fifteen people cut rushes from Warley Moor, and a complex 'thatched' cart is created with a space for a person to sit."
(From 'Rush-Bearing', p.361-2 of England in Particular). Contact +44(0)1422 833862
Opening of the Oyster Fisheries, Colchester, Essex
"Gin and gingerbread herald the start of the dredging eason in the much-coveted oyster fishery near Colchester, Essex, in September. The Mayor, Chief Executive and Town Sergeant, in civic robes, set out with forty guests on a sailing barge from Brightlingsea to the main oyster farming beds in the Pyefleet Channel by Mersea Island. The ancient Proclamation of 1256, which affirms Colchester’s exclusive rights for time immemorial, is read and the fishery declared open. The Mayor drinks the Loyal Toast to the Queen with gin, followed by gingerbread, orders the first dredge to be made and has the honour of eating the first oyster. All are treated to an oyster lunch."
(From 'Oysters', p.312 of England in Particular).
History : www.gazette-news.co.uk
Colchester borough council : www.colchester.gov.uk
Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire
"This could be ‘the oldest surviving ceremony in Britain’, according to Charles Kightly ... The ceremony takes place ... on Wakes Monday, the old village feast day ... After a blessing by the vicar in St Nicholas’s Church ... The six Deer Men, a Man-Woman ... a Hobby Horse with snapping jaws, a Bowman ... and a Fool are accompanied by a boy with a triangle and a melodeon player ... Over and over again a simple dance is performed around the parish - a perambulation of about ten miles."
(From 'Abbots Bromley Horn Dance', p.3-4 of England in Particular).
Egremont Crab Fair, Cumberland
The autumn equinox
Feast of St Michael who cast the devil out of heaven. A time for hiring and goose fairs (geese were fattened on the stubble after the harvest). It is unlucky to eat blackberries on or after this day (it may have been October 10th in the old calendar) as the devil, in revenge spits (or worse) on them.
APPLE DAY IS COMING!
October 21st .... Visit an event near you! See the events list, regularly updated.
What's in SEASON?
Fruit & Vegetables
Globe artichokes, runner beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbages (Savoy), carrots, winter cauliflowers from Cornwall, celeriac, chard, corn on the cob, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, marrow, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes (first King Edward), pumpkins, radish, spinach, squash, sweeds, sweetcorn, turnips, tomatoes,
Apples – such as Beauty of Bath, Discovery, Lord Lamborne, St Edmunds Russet, Worcester Pearmain; blackberries, Kentish cobnuts, Conference pears, damsons, greengages, plums, raspberries, strawberries, green walnuts.
Picking Blackberries with my Father
It was a thorny subject
picking blackberries with my father.
Taken from the whole
like gouged eyes
they'd squash in my fingers -
bloodstain would linger,
on my pristine, pricked flesh.
My truculent complaints
like the soft purple protests
of succulent fruits,
were met with annoyance.
for not filling my basket
I would castrate the bush -
at my soiled, spoiled hands.
we'd eat blackberry tart.
Eat English Cobnuts!
"A ‘cob’ was a plump nut used in a game called coblenut (perhaps the precursor of conkers), played by children in the sixteenth century, so cobnuts came to be known as the fruit of the wild hazel tree. The first cultivated nuts, probably from Turkey, were known as filberts or fullbeards, which have long frilly husks, to differentiate them from the wild hazels that have rounder nuts and shorter husks.
The commercial growing of hazelnuts was established in Kent by the late eighteenth century. Several hundred acres of White Filbert grew around Maidstone, sometimes inter-planted with hops, apple or cherry trees. In the 1830s a new variety was introduced by a Mr Lambert from Goudhurst. First called Lambert’s Filbert, it was so widely grown that it became known as the Kentish Cob.
Kent, especially the ragstone between Sevenoaks and Ashford, remains the heartland of cultivation in England. The trees, which grow in orchards or ‘plats’, were thinned and trained into a bowl shape, with about eight branches growing outwards and upwards to a height of about six feet. This allowed plenty of light to get to the shoots. Suckers, known as wands or spawn, were removed annually and the soil between the rows dug to kill the nut weevil larvae.
As with hop-picking, itinerant workers were joined by Londoners. The first picking or ‘firsting’, is in mid-to-late August, when the husks and nuts are still green, fresh and juicy. A month later, when they are ripe and have lost some moisture but their taste has become concentrated, the ‘seconding’ takes place, and eventually the ‘thirding’ includes anything that is left. The nuts were put into wicker baskets called kipsies and then into round baskets, or ‘sieves’, holding ‘about 28 pounds of green nuts or forty pounds of ripe ones”, as Meg Game remembered. They were sent off on special carts, known as fruit-vans, to the station, to be sold at the London markets of Borough, Spitalfields, Farringdon and Covent Garden. Rags, waste from wool mills, goose and turkey feathers and horse dung from London stables came back on the return journey to manure the crop.
The peak of cobnut production was before the First World War, when more than seven thousand acres were under cultivation, some in Worcestershire but mostly in Kent. By 1990 the acreage had plummeted to 250 in Kent. Cheaper imports, aided by better means of storage and transport, undercut the industry, and less labour-intensive crops helped by artificial fertilisers took the cobnut’s place. An important source of protein and a way of life were slipping away.
Since 1990, when the Kentish Cobnuts Association was formed, the acreage has increased in the villages around Plaxtol and Ightham. At Meg Games’s plat in Ightham, Turkish residents from Hackney and Lewisham in east London come each year to pick this favourite food and taste the freedom of the country. Other nut lovers, less appreciated by the growers, include nuthatches, great tits, grey squirrels and the dormouse, which eats them when the shells are still soft, leaving a telltale round hole in the shell. Bluebells and primroses thrive where the trees are less intensively managed. The catkins have other names, including aglets, blowings, kentice and gull.”
(from 'Cobnuts' , p.105 of England In Particular, published by Hodder & Stoughton. Read more HERE.)
Information on cobnuts and the Kentish Cobnuts Association:
You can also read some guidance notes on this site: click HERE