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Throughout horticultural and agricultural history there has been a place for the orchard. It is believed that in Asia, apple trees were taken from the wild and replanted nearer settlements for domestic use since 6000BC and for the Greeks, cultivation and enjoyment of orchards became an essential part of daily life.
Romans introduced apples and grafting techniques to England and in Medieval times, 'flowery meads' (small meadows) and orchards played their part at a time when people felt the need to be 'enclosed' within their own territory; they were also a vital part of self sufficient, monastic life.
Surviving throughout history orchards remained during the long Renaissance period and continued over the Landscape movement, both times of great change in horticulture. The beauty and practical use of the orchard has preserved its own existence: a food source or shady place for contemplation.
In the fifty years succeeding WWII, two thirds of traditional orchards disappeared and in 2000AD, the Millennium year, Hartley Wintney Parish Council established this Community Orchard to recapture some of the traditional orchard functions; a place for the public to wander and meet, remember loved ones and to sustain old and dying-out varieties, traditional recipes and customs.
Originally designed to portray a history of cultivated English tree grown fruit from the Roman invasion to the present day, it has been developed to include a number of nuts and berried fruit native to this country and contains a number of varieties once peculiar to Hampshire and the South of England.
The Orchard restores Hunts Common to its role as an integral part of village life. Until the turn of the century it was the focus of village life on November 5th when it was the venue for the annual bonfire, lit by tar barrels rolled from Phoenix Green.
A month later, on December 4th, the Common was the site of an annual Cattle Fair when stock from as far away as Devon and Wales was brought to the village for sale; the fun fair, which accompanied the Cattle Fair, continued to use the site until the mid sixties.
The Orchard provides an opportunity for the use of a village venue for the re-introduction of traditional celebrations, festivals and customs in addition to its role as a living history of fruit.
The Orchard was renamed in memory of the late Clerk Patrick Vaughan in January 2009 and a tree has been planted on the site in recognition of his contribution to the village and his work on this project.
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