Born of a Conversation

The ‘Pilgrim 400’ apple was born out of a conversation between two friends, Celia Steven and John Stirland. Celia is the great granddaughter of Henry Merryweather, the nurseryman who raised the Bramley apple, and she lives near Plymouth, Devon. John Stirland is a horticulturist and a former presenter with Radio Nottingham and he lives in a village near the area where some of the Pilgrims came from.

Pilgrim 400 Apple (The Story)

The Pilgrim 400 Apple | Mayflower 400 Events | Plymouth Pilgrims

They both have a passion for involving people with trees and using them to explain and commemorate historical events. In 2015, they heard about plans to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s epic voyage and decided to find a new apple tree that could be named for the occasion. They already knew that apples were extremely important in the lives of the early colonists.

The Pilgrim 400 Apple | Mayflower 400 Events | Plymouth Pilgrims

John made an appeal to Radio Nottingham listeners to tell him about any garden trees which had been grown from seed. A householder in Southwell answered the call. John went to look and he could see the tree was full of good fruit. As soon as spring came in 2016, he arranged for grafts to be taken and grown as the first of a new generation


DNA tests confirmed the tree was unique and could be named


'Pilgrim 400' officially registered as a Local Cultivar.

The Pilgrim 400 Apple | Mayflower 400 Events | Plymouth Pilgrims

Tree lovers in the roots area of Nottinghamshire at the start of the Pilgrim Trail and in Plymouth, the setting-off point from the old world, came together to promote the new apple as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Bassetlaw District Council invited Mayflower Destinations to accept a ‘Pilgrim 400’ tree for planting at a civic occasion and Plymouth Tree Partnership grew a limited edition of 40 trees for planting by schools and community groups across the country.