The Porters

The Porters of East Lambrook & Porter’s Perfection

Charles Porter

The Porters involvement with cider begins towards the end of the 19thc. Over the years from 1880 to 1953 Charles Porter and his son William developed many cider apple varieties. These are embedded and remain cornerstones of recent and contemporary cider orchard varieties.

Charles, born in 1844, was the son of an innkeeper. His father died the year after his birth. His mother Jane nee Walden was a glover. At 16 years Charles was an agricultural labourer. He married Anna Lye a farmer’s daughter from Stembridge in 1870 at Mid Lambrook chapel. They had 3 children Anna Jane who dies aged 2 years, Florence, and then William in 1873.

The Tithe Map of 1840 – showing Field 977.
Charles starts out on his own account in the early 1870’s and by 1881 he is living at East Lambrook as a farmer renting 20 acres – 11 acres of orchards and 9 acres of pasture.

It is on a part of one of the pieces of land – Field 977 – Kings Close – that a two-acre plot is fenced off and a nursery established.

Field 977 – Kings Close

In the 1960’s many of these original trees were still standing – notably Dabinett & Red Worthy. By 1903 Charle’s son William was active in the business and a new house is built in East Lambrook.

By 1906 the nursery was supplying a good range of apple varieties as witnessed by the list sent to Long Ashton which now also included Taylor’s Sweet, Porter’s Perfection and Chesil Jersey – amongst others. They worked hard at establishing their varieties to wider cider-apple audience via their nursery.

Charles died in 1932 and William had by now been joined by his son, also a William, but known as ‘Peter’. The nursery prospered between the war years supplying many local orchards.

William Porter and sons – Peter left & Alfred centre

They also made cider and exhibited cider apple varieties and became suppliers to Brutton, Mitchel Toms Ltd of Chard.

This was bought by the Taunton Cider Company in 1963 and it acquired the Autumn Gold cider brand name.

The post war changes in farming practices led to the grubbing out of the orchards and a focussing on dairy farming. Cider making ceased on the farm but apple-supply to producers continued. Eventually all apples from the trees went to Perry Brothers at Dowlish Wake.

William Porter at the Orchard in East Lambrook.

One of the first to invest in 1968 with the Cacquevel harvester; it was still in use in 2012.

The two orchards that Charles took over in the 1880’s are still producing cider apples: very few trees from William’s days remain, none from those of Charles.

Sarah & Simon, fourth generation Porters above, collecting –
and below, the next generation in the orchards.

Charles’ great grandchildren, and great, great, great grandchildren operate the orchards in much the same way with upwards of 50 varieties of standard cider apple trees. Porter’s Perfection is among them.

Botanical illustration by Susan Ogilvy of East Lambrook, presented to Alfred Porter on his birthday in 2007.

Simon Porter, great grandson of Charles Porter in East Lambrook as a child.
Woodpecker on young new cider tree in Kings Close field 977, East Lambrook.

Simon Porter
Great grandson of Charles Porter

In the course of our archiving and recording work, the internet enables us to reach people who in some way are connected with either the study we are undertaking or the Parish generally. During our work on the Cider Project, Bernard Porter, living in Wales sent us these three following images from his family archive. They are all of the Porter family working in the Parish in the early 1900’s. Our Thanks.
Porters unloading cider apples at
New Cross Farm, West Lambrook
Porter family members.
Porters picking cider apples.