The Victoria plum, probably the most well known, has been grown exclusively in England since Dickensian times, and has recently enjoyed a revival as consumers turn to home-grown seasonal fruit and away from imports whose solid flesh lacks the juice and flavour of the original.
However, according to fruit historian and writer, Christopher Stocks, there is a suggestion that the variety is in fact French.
“The horticulturist and plant breeder Thomas Rivers, in his 150 year old ‘Catalogue of Fruits’ which is housed in the Lindley Library, is highly sceptical it is an English fruit and thinks it is an ‘old variety with a new name’, probably a re-christened French plum, such as the Royal Dauphin. This variety was in all likelihood named after Louis XVI, whose extravagant tastes resulted in the French Revolution, so you can see why 18th century growers might have wanted to discreetly re-brand it” says Christopher Stocks.
He goes on to say “The variety’s origin is surrounded by mystery, which suggests Rivers may be on to something. Pick up any book on the subject and you will read the same account: it was found in a cottage garden in the Sussex village of Alderton. But the flaw in this historical record is that there is not, and has never been, any such place as Alderton in Sussex. One explanation is a simple spelling mistake; there is a pretty and rather remote village called Walderton that sits in a fold of the Downs between Chichester and Emsworth. If it is, it raises the exciting possibility that the original plum tree might still be found in one of its cottage gardens. I would appeal to all residents of Walderton with ancient plum Victoria plum trees to get in touch with me”Delia’s plum recipes
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