£8,400 Heritage Lottery Fund grant

Monday 24 April 2017

Shuttleworth College has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant for its work in tracing the DNA of “Shakespeare’s Pear”.

This exciting project, The Bedfordshire Old Warden Pear: Identification by DNA testing, propagation and bedding out, at the Old Warden site led by Paul Labous, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Tutor, has been given £8,400 towards identifying the original pear from different varieties and exploring the heritage of the fruit and its associations with the village of Old Warden.

Old Warden classroom

Shuttleworth College is an award-winning land-based learning college with wide agricultural links across the world. The aim of this project is to research the origin of the local culinary Warden Pear, believed to have first been grown at the Cistercian abbey near to the village of Old Warden in Bedfordshire, circa 1388.

The verification of a distinct Warden Pear, mentioned in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’, is of significant interest in Bedfordshire and to the local community of Old Warden village. 

Warden pear pies were a Bedfordshire speciality, being baked in the residual heat of the traditional bread ovens, overnight.

The college will carry out an investigation aimed at distinguishing remaining specimens of the original ‘’Old Warden Pear’ from other ‘Wardens’, (a general name used in the middle ages to describe any culinary pear).  In order to achieve this we will commission a series of DNA tests which would show genetic differences between various pear samples from various areas of the country

Commenting on the award, RHS Tutor Paul Labous said: “It’s very exciting that we have been awarded the HLF grant, especially just after the 400th anniversary William Shakespeare.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England said: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to offer this grant, so that The Bedfordshire Old Warden Pear project can embark on a real journey of discovery. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.

Sharing Heritage

Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3 million each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions, to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment, to managing and training volunteers and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.

Heritage Lottery Fund

From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. www.hlf.org.uk

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