September is a month to celebrate…

Restoring the Glory

The Final Submission.

Two years worth of consultation, meticulous surveys, research, and planning was finally pulled together into a ream of comprehensive documents that together form a detailed and thorough HLF / Big Lottery Fund /Parks for People Bid.

Over one hundred people including experts, Friends of Cannon Hall fundraisers, steering group, volunteers, Barnsley Museums team members, Parks for People project team and the many, many visitors to our wonderful park were involved in the preparation of the application.

Massive thanks to everyone involved!

This was safely hand delivered by Sam Scholes from Plincke Landscape Architects to the HLF office in Leeds. The project team celebrated by eating what has become to be known as the ‘lucky’ bagel.hlf-final-submission

We hope to hear towards the end of the year. So please keep your Big Lottery Fingers crossed for us.








Pears! Pears! Pears!

We are very proud of our historic Pear Tree Collection at Cannon Hall

In the month of September we invite visitors to join us in the stunning Walled Garden to celebrate the importance of the Cannon Hall Pear Tree Collection.

Come along on Sunday 18 September 2016 and join the fun & activities.

For more details click here

This month our garden volunteer and Friend of Cannon Hall, Lynda Higgs, talks about the plants she loves so well….

Pears are not as hardy as apples and not particularly suited to the British climate, let alone the Yorkshire climate!  This is one of the unique features of the collection at Cannon Hall. We look after 61 pear trees in the walled garden, with approximately 37 different varieties and a few unidentified ones. Nearly all of them are trained against the walls or fences to make most use of the shelter and warmth a walled garden gives. They are grown as ‘espaliers’ or fan-trained and are kept small for maximum yield, many being grafted onto quince rootstock to restrict growth.  One large mature tree stands next to the ruined (Northern) greenhouse, showing how tall and wide a freestanding tree can get, this particular variety is a Charles Ernest.

Our oldest tree, a Jargonelle, is reputed to be around 200 years old and recognisable by its size and thick rootstock and trunk. Actually pears can reach a great age, 300 – 400 years have even been recorded.

Pears trees grow slowly – hence the saying, “plant your pears for your heirs”.  Pruning to give shape and open up the structure is done in winter and a light summer prune is done to give the fruit more light to aid ripening.



Cultivated forms of the common pear, Pyrus Communis, were known in Europe in antiquity and pears are said to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans and grown in monastery gardens in the Middle Ages. These would have been cooking pears, needing hours of stewing to make them edible. Indeed, most fruit was not to be eaten raw, as it was considered very bad for you, thus the old quote “Raw Pears a poyfon, baked a medicine be”. They would be simmered in wine and spices or baked in pies.

The driving force for improvement came in the 16th century, in Italy where pears and other fruit ripened naturally, and more improvements came in the 17th and early 18th centuries in France. In the 19th century Belgium became the home of pear improvement.  So we have at Cannon Hall medieval pears – Black Worcester – once shown to Queen Elizabeth 1, and pears with evocative French names – Triomphe de Vienne, Beurre Diel, Fondant de Cuerne and Doyenne du Comice.  A Belgian pear, Glou Morceau, translates as “delicious morsel”.  A few of our pears in the Walled Garden are English in origin – Black Worcester and Hessle amongst them.

The collection we care for at Cannon Hall mirrors the evidence we have from the archives of varieties grown from the  early 18th century – I planted a Black Worcester which is on the 1719 list (Sp/St 60673/1), and a Swan’s Egg from the 1735 list (Sp/St 60673/3).  We have none from the 1761 list (Sp/St 60673/4), though I think that could be remedied.  The majority of the pears planted in the garden at various times are from the 19th century, and we have a few modern varieties in keeping with the tradition.

It was very important for the gardeners to supply fresh fruit for the dining table at every season of the year and pears are very useful in this respect.  The earliest pears, Laxton’s Early Market and Jargonelle, can be picked in July and August, and some of the later pears which are picked before the first frosts in autumn can last in storage until January and February.  We have a good number of these autumn and winter pears at Cannon Hall (Le Lectier and Glou Morceau are examples).  Hence the importance of the Fruit Room.

Most pears benefit from a short period of storage in order to ripen fully – even a week, but nowadays we are used to imports of fresh, sugary eating pears from the shops and need to consume them instantly. Our only choice is from the half dozen or so widely grown imported varieties.

The development phase of the HLF/ Parks for People project allowed the project team and volunteers to consult experts from Plant Heritage and Northern Fruit Group about the Cannon Hall pear tree’s importance as a collection. The feedback received was favourable and the team are now intending to apply for National Collection Status. If you would like to know more or would like to be involved, then please do get in touch.


Cannon Hall’s latest exhibition

10 September – 18 December

Enjoy an exhibition that celebrates the Hall’s landscape, wildlife, unique character and the love affair the people have with it.

See the park as never before as artists create an intriguing look at the grounds from the perspective of our canine friends!

Free admission



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