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November 27, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Farm Shop goes online !

Cheese, Mr Moydens Apley cheese

Mr Moyden’s Apley cheese

Butcher  Beef fillet

British White beef from Oldington Farm on the Apley Estate, just 1 mile from Apley Farm Shop

DeliShop logoWe’ve been beavering away in the background since September, preparing to launch our first ever online sales forum, DeliShop. You can buy over 100 of Apley Farm Shop’s products, to which we’re adding all the time (eg. today hopefully, my favourite MacNeil’s smoked salmon & gift vouchers which are so useful as pressies). The range includes items from the Apley butchery counter & the Apley Delicatessen counter as well veg boxes.

Apley Farm Shop products (this Apley beef & Apley cheese are of course 2 of my favourites) are only currently available for Click & Collect from the shop itself. But we also sell some products directly from other suppliers, ie. non Apley Farm Shop items, which can be delivered to your home.

It was set up by Charlie Turnbull of Turnbull’s Deli (drop in when you’re next in Shaftesbury, Dorset) who we met in early September at the Specialty & Fine Food Fair in London. We’re developing it all the time & Steve Watts of A Decent Exposure will be improving some of our photos.

Here’s a bit about DeliShops which sums up their philosophy: “As an industry we need to do more online, but locally. DeliShops are about independent businesses offering more products and better services, increasing local trade with local people and benefiting from the growing Bricks & Clicks evolution of online retail. DeliShops uniquely offer the range and flexibility, affordably and easily, for independent food shops and suppliers to get online and get ahead. Just like the big boys do.”

Just click HERE to take a look !

Just as a PS.: Tomorrow, we’ll be getting fully into the festive season with our Apley Farm Shop Christmas Food Fair – free tasters & a fabulous programme of free cookery demonstrations 10.30-4pm. Photographer Steve Watts of A Decent Exposure will be snapping the occasion & AgWa Media will be beginning our winter season film. So if you missed seeing Agata’s fabulous Autumn film earlier in the month, click HERE to enjoy it now. Then on Sunday 29 November 10-4pm, we’re holding the Apley Christmas Craft Fair (instead of being on 6 Dec).

November 26, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Free cookery demonstrations this Saturday, 28 Nov

12-2015, CFF 28 Nov slide2015-11-27, AFS Christmas Food Fair Cookery demonstration schedule page 1 only JPEGI am very excited to see this Saturday’s programme of free cookery demonstrations at Apley Farm Shop. Running from 10.30-4pm, alongside our Christmas Food Fair (10-4pm) where over 20 local producers come & offer customers free tasters. I know our staff have been really busy this week getting the looking ready & delicious food prepared. Plus on Sunday, it’s our Christmas Craft Fair, 10-4pm, so it’ll be a fun weekend. Short biographies of our demonstrators are below. Here’s tomorrow’s line demo up – including award winning Thai chef Suree Coates who uses Apley Walled Garden vegetables, Grown to Order by Phil especially for her:

Slide6 Slide7






Short biographies of the demonstrators: 

Masala & Netherton PDF-page-001








Derrin & Gavin PDF-page-001












Suree PDF-page-001








Mr Moyden PDF-page-001









Gilly PDF with logo-page-001











November 25, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Florist & gifts at Big Little Things – Apley Farm Shop

2015-11-24, BLT Christmas photo for blog Fran and Sarah - big Little Things Florist and gifts TelfordI love hearing the latest news from all the shops in the courtyard at Apley Farm Shop. The latest to join us, Sarah & Fran of Big Little Things, have just sent me this update, as we make final preparations for our annual Christmas Food Fair with free cookery demonstrations from 10-4pm. This coming weekend (Friday 27th, Saturday 28th, Sunday 29th November 2015) Big Little things are offering an additional 10% off all floristry purchases & orders. (Just mention this blog to claim it.) The 10% discount applies to any purchase of floral arrangements & as well as off forward orders for Christmas door wreaths. Big Little Things have got some wonderful Christmas gifts ideas, personalised hessian Christmas sacks fabulous Christmas decorations. Drop in on & see! Apley loyalty card holders continue to receive a 10% discount off all purchases simply by presenting their loyalty card.

12-2015, December - Title slide - ThumbnailTheir online shop has a wide selection of Christmas wares. Why not also have a peek at their Facebook page.

PS. Hot off the press – click HERE or on the picture to see our December slideshow which will be showing on our in-store TVs by Friday. It’s a great summary of all that’s going on this Christmas at Apley Farm Shop.

November 24, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Free Cookery demonstrations at Apley’s Christmas Food Fair this Saturday, 28 Nov


Chocolate Christmas baubles ! (©Steve Watts)


Apley mince pies (©Steve Watts)


Willow making festive cinammon scones (©Steve Watts)

We have an impressive schedule of free cookery demonstrations during our Christmas Food Fair this Saturday, 28 November (10-4pm). Amongst those on the stage will be award-winning Thai chef, Suree Coates of the King & Thai in Broseley, who won the Midlands Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year 2015. Others demonstrating will be Derrin Wescott cooking pheasant with Lord Hamilton (Gavin inherited his mother’s fab culinary skills), the Netherton Foundry, Martin Moyden of Moyden’s Handmade Cheeses, Annette Cole of Annette Cole, A Taste of Game & Gilly Clayton who hosts the Apley Cookery Club.

Apley Walled Garden brussels sprouts

Apley Walled Garden brussels sprouts (© Steve Watts)

Shoppers can enjoy mulled wine & a hog roast lunch to live Christmas music from the Abraham Darby Academy saxophone ensemble.

Over 20 local producers will be in a marquee, offering customers delicious free tasters of their artisanal food & drinks produced in & around Shropshire. Amongst them will be Addisons wines, Peter’s Yard, Patchwork pate, Oak Apple Catering, Macneil Smoke House, Bakers & Cooks & the Hop & Stagger Brewery who now have a range of 4 beers made just across the fields from Apley Farm Shop.

There will of course be free samples of our own Apley products including meats (don’t miss those award-winning sausages I wrote about yesterday), Julie’s amazing Christmas puddings, mince pies & Christmas cakes. My favourite cheese on our delicatessen counter will always be our own Apley cheese of course, but it’s surrounded by a wide range of other local, national & some international cheeses as well as cold meats, quiches, pies, ready made meals & olives. Our Christmas veg boxes are available in 2 sizes. Christmas butcher & delicatessen orders are already open – forms are available in the shop. Take the chance on Saturday to try before you buy/order – turkey, goose & hams.

With a new Christmas menu each week to choose from, whilst onsite, why not catch our cafe manager Zoe & book your Christmas party in the Creamery Café, just drop in for a Festive Afternoon Tea or bring children & grandchildren for a Breakfast or Tea with a visit from Santa (booking is required). This year’s Santa’s Grotto will be prettier than ever & have an onsite photographer (booking not necessary).

If you’re still stuck for present ideas, choose from our wide range of very popular bespoke or readymade Christmas hampers in the farm shop itself. Apley Farm Shop has gorgeous Courtyard Shopping – Big Little Things (florists & gifts) have a beautiful range (I’ll share some of their photos tomorrow), as does Lottie’s [fashion & homewares]. A voucher for pampering treatments or skin creams from Annie’s Reiki Centre make perfect presents for parents whilst children can post their letters to Father Christmas in the jam-packed Alley Katz Toy Shop. Scotty’s Animal Park is now closed for the winter & the Apley Plant Centre hibernates on 30 Nov until February.

On Sunday, also undercover, we’ll hold The Apley Christmas Craft Fair, 10-4pm – the last for this year.

The whole site is looking really Christmassy – with sparkly angels trumpetting from the beams. During the week 11-18 Dec, our staff will be participating in Save the Children Fund’s campaign, “Make the World Better with a Sweater” (Christmas Jumper Day). They’ll wear fun & festive jumpers & we’ll have collecting boxes on our cash tills.

Christmas is now only a month away ! Yikes – I’ve hardly begun to think about anyone’s pressies !

November 23, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley butchers win awards for sausages


Winner ! The silver award winning pork & spring onion sausages


Craig preparing a carcass of British White beef from the Apley Estate, 1 mile away

John preparing a joint of beef for roasting

John preparing a joint of beef for roasting

Our Apley butchers have just won awards for 2 of their varieties of sausage this weekend at the Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society awards held at the Staffordshire County Showground.

John Callinswood & Craig Whitehouse won a gold award (97/100) for their traditional pork sausage & a silver award (94/100) – Pork, Stilton & Spring Onion sausage – just 1 point off another gold award.

We’re all obviously delighted with this outcome. I know they love preparing for & serving Apley Farm Shop’s customers, using locally sourced meat & local ingredients, so this is a real reward for all their hard work. It’s not the first time John has won awards for his work: In the past, John has won the best pork pie in the Midlands. Of course, we hope John & Craig will be entering many other similar competitions in 2016 – it’s a great way of always raising one’s own game, always improving, developing new products & methods.

On their butchery counter (currently overlooked by a huge glittery Christmas star!) other varieties of sausage produced include Moroccan lamb, beef & horse radish, pork & tomato, pork & apple, pork & leek, pork, honey & mustard, pork & black pepper.  They’ll be offering free tasters of their sausages on Saturday 28 November during the Apley Farm Shop Christmas Food Fair, 10-4pm.  For Christmas orders, they have free range Kelly Bronze turkeys, free range geese, British White beef from the Apley Estate & Christmas hams from free range pork.

Nearly all their products can be bespoke for customers’ wishes including bespoke game pies from Apley’s own game & bespoke pork pies (eg. an egg & mushroom pork pie). It’ll be handmade at Apley & they’ll have it ready within 2 days, sometimes less.

Over 100 of Apley Farm Shop’s products, including some from the butchery counter, will very soon be available to order online via our DeliShop. It’s a standard Click & Collect where customers will come to the shop to collect whatever they’ve ordered online.


November 22, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Remembrance Day on the Apley Estate

2015-11-21, Graham Jones restored the bench outside Norton School

Graham Jones restored the bench outside Norton School, inscribed with Leslie Webb’s name

Norman Sharpe, Graham Jones's photo

Private Norman Sharpe – 5th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Les Webb, , Graham Jones's photo

Corporal Leslie Webb – Royal Engineers

Charlie & Annie Webb, Graham Jones's photo

Bombardier Charlie Webb – Royal Horse Artillery – Royal Air Force

Philip Davies, , Graham Jones's photo

Squadron Leader Phillip Davies – Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Graham Jones went to Norton school in the heart of the Apley Estate & about 100m from Apley Farm Shop. He has written The Apley Legion: A Parade of Servicemen from a Shropshire Estate & shared with me the pieces which were movingly read out 2 weeks ago on Remembrance Sunday, 8 November.

The congregation heard about the 4 Apley men photographed here (these are all Graham Jones’s photos): Bombardier Charlie Webb – Royal Horse Artillery – Royal Air Force; Corporal Leslie Webb – Royal Engineers; Private Norman Sharpe – 5th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; Squadron Leader Phillip Davies – Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders – Royal Flying Corps & RAF.

Here’s Graham’s piece about Norman Sharpe, who became gamekeeper on the Apley Estate & whose son Edward Sharpe has published his memoirs in Apley Hall: The Golden Years of a Sporting Estate.

“Edward Sharpe and his young family moved from Essex to Apley Lodge in 1902, Norman was five years old. His earliest memories were of woodland and river bank, the perfect playground for any young boy. He followed his father as he went about his duties as head gamekeeper. He learned the ways of the wildlife, pheasant and fox, trout and salmon in the Severn, deer in the park and every bird that nested in woodland and hedgerow. He was determined to learn more so that one day he would follow the same calling as his father, but first he had to complete his schooling. He was restless and it must have been a relief to Mr Davies when Norman left the village school to become an office boy!

This was not the outdoor life he had hoped for but he did get plenty of exercise outdoors. He ran around every street in the town collecting the rent from the many properties owned by William Foster.  At the end of the day he caught the train to Linley Halt and ran home to Apley Lodge. The war put an end to this routine.

Phillip Davies had joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and appeared in the heart of the village in uniform with all the trimmings. Norman may have been envious because he joined the same regiment in June 1915.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had such a reputation that they were often given the most dangerous tasks. Norman’s record of service showed that he had special skills, ‘sniper’,’ bomber’, and ‘runner’. He never forgot one message he carried to a company of the Black Watch. There was no one to receive it. Every man was dead, victims of a gas attack that went terribly wrong. The lethal cloud intended for the German trenches swept back over them when the wind changed direction.

Norman had an independent streak, at the training camp at Etaples he rebelled. On the first day the Argylls were given bayonet practice. These were men who had first-hand battle experience and did not need any instruction on how to defend themselves. At the roll calls that followed one of his mates answered for him and he spent his days in a railway siding writing letters home.

In the summer of 1917 he was laid low with trench fever- head aches, a rash, inflamed eyes, and leg pains. Usually patients recovered within a week. The cause was a mystery until 1918, body lice were the culprits, particularly active in the summer months.

Private Sharpe saw action in major battles and minor skirmishes. His luck ran out at Dichebusch, a village near Ypres. He was guiding a party of the Royal Artillery to a gun emplacement on the front line. Shells were falling all around them, this was nothing new they were all experienced men. On this occasion the gunners were on the receiving end. A shell fell among them and three were killed and three of their escorts were wounded. Norman was hit, splinters ripped through his leg, his war was over.

The Argylls had lost many men, Apley men had lost their lives, Arthur Foster had lost a leg. Norman must have considered himself fortunate that his leg was saved. The war ended in four months but it was almost a year before Norman was released. He was awarded Silver War Badge for ‘services rendered’.

Still troubled by his wound he returned to his old ‘office job’. His dream of walking the woods on a keeper’s beat was not realised for four years. At last his father gave him the chance to show what he could do, when Edward Sharpe retired Norman became the head game keeper. This was a determined man who never wavered, in battle or in the pursuit of a dream.”

November 21, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden on

Waitrose Magazine, 24 Sept 2015

Waitrose Magazine, 24 Sept 2015

King & Thai logo

Phil Allen & Suree Coates. Source: Love British Food

Phil Allen & Suree Coates. Source: Love British Food

Apley Walled Garden had a tiny snippet of a mention (but not specifically – just “all grown in nearby Bridgnorth“) in the Waitrose Magazine back in September when the King & Thai restaurant in Broseley won the Midlands Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year. This is a fantastic achievement for chef Suree Coates, who is coming to give a demonstration at Apley Farm Shop’s Christmas Food Fair next Saturday, 28 November (I hope it’ll be milder than today !). Suree sources some of her vegetables from Apley Walled Gardens. She pops down (it’s not far at all) to see Phil, who marks the rows & plots which are then Grown to Order especially for her. Parts of our garden becomes bespoke for her, allowing her to secure a source of otherwise hard to find, unusual fruit & vegetables. To read a more complete account on, click HERE.

Head Gardener, Phil Allen, gardens using bio dynamic methods, originally a French concept & now widely used in third world countries all over the world. He combines that with Integrated Pest Management (IPM), using trap crops. More on that & his latest gardening news in more detail early next week. In order to make the garden increasingly self sufficient, he puts an amount back of whatever comes out of [ie. is produced in] the garden, to return the trace elements & nutrients back into the soil. Phil gives guided tours throughout the year & gives talks to local interest groups. Email or

November 19, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Christmas preparations at Apley Farm Shop

2015-11-19, Shropshire Magazine 2015 page 87

Shropshire Magazine 2015, page 87

 Christmas wreaths by Tina & Willow

Christmas wreaths by Tina & Willow

It’s a lovely time of year in Apley Farm Shop as each day, some new preparations are made towards Christmas time, helping to make it an extra special time of year for everyone.

Tina sent me this photo of these lovely wreaths she & Willow have spent hours making together, using Apley Estate foliage of course ! They’ll decorate the Winter Wonderland tent which will contain for Santa’s Grotto.

We have an exciting programme of cookery demonstrations during our Christmas Food Fair on Saturday 28 November, 10-4pm in addition to over 20 producers coming to offer customers free tasters of delicious festive food & drink. The very next day we’ll hold the Christmas Apley Craft Fair (on Sunday 29 November, 10-4pm) when over 20 Shropshire crafters will be offering a variety of local crafts including leather dog collars, jewellery, skincare, soaps, art, textiles, candles, with some demonstrating their craft techniques during the day.

Before then, next week, 23-30 Nov, it’s the Taste of Game week, so be sure to head straight for the butcher’s counter for some free tasters & free recipes ! Combine them with our Apley Walled Garden flower sprouts which is our vegetable of the month – they’re a cross between kale & sprouts.

Look out for our Christmas advert like this one in the Shropshire Magazine, as well as this small article about our fabulous Christmas hampers – talking of which, we’re just fulfilling a 70-hamper corporate order. .

Flower sprouts

Flower sprouts, veg of the month

2015-11-19, Shropshire Magazine 2015 page 92

Shropshire Magazine 2015, page 92

November 18, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Park 1933 recipe for mulled claret from the last butler

Tom J Gray, Blues & Royals

Tom J Gray, Blues & Royals in Istanbul

Thomas Gray's Claret recipe

Thomas Gray’s Claret recipe

As part of my ongoing Apley Archives project, I recently met again with the 3 children of Mr Gray, the last butler at Apley Park [Hall] to Major A W Foster (they first met when both serving in the Blues & Royals [regiment]). They shared with me not only more invaluable memories, but also one of his original Christmas recipes, transcribed here:

Apley Park Mulled Claret recipe, by Thomas J Gray, 16 Dec 1933

Put into 2 pints of cold water (in perfectly clean large copper saucepan)

  • 1 oz Root ginger
  • 6 sticks cinnamon sticks
  • 1 grated nutmeg
  • 20 cloves
  • 3 strips of thin lemon peel

Allow this to boil for three quarters of an hour, then strain through fine muslin, put back into saucepan with 1/2 lb sugar, add four bottles of claret& warm up to drinking temperature.

We served this to our customers during our Christmas Launch last Saturday, along with Julie’s incredibly delicious mince pies. Lora in the farm shop is preparing kits containing all these ingredients, so you can recreate this very authentic Apley recipe for your own Christmas celebrations at home. We’re not yet selling butler fancy dress kits, to make it really complete !

November 17, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Christmas menus in Apley Farm Shop

Christmas Lunch Menu 1, week commencing 28 Nov

Christmas Lunch Menu 1, week commencing 28 Nov

2015-11-10 Christmas Lunch Menu 4 holly, wc 19 Dec

Christmas Lunch Menu 4, week commencing 19 Dec

2015-11-10 Christmas Lunch Menu 2 with holly wc 5 Dec

Christmas Lunch Menu 2, week commencing 5 Dec

Christmas Lunch Menu 3, week commencing 12 Dec

Christmas Lunch Menu 3, week commencing 12 Dec

Herb breaded flat mushrooms

Herb breaded flat mushrooms


Zoe, Creamery Cafe manager, Apley Farm Shop

2015-11-16, Whole partridge braised with red cabbage & juniper

Whole partridge braised with red cabbage & juniper

As the Autumn rain falls outside & puts me off running a few errands on my bike, there are 2 things to mention:

Firstly, if you missed hearing our Head Gardener [of Apley Walled Garden] Phil Allen on BBC Radio Shropshire‘s Gardeners’ Question Time on Sunday 12-1pm, listen again HERE.

Secondly, in the Creamery Cafe at Apley Farm Shop, Head Chef Matt Jones has compiled 4 different Christmas menus, one for each week leading up to Christmas. Here they are below – just call Zoe (photo below) on 01952 730 345 ext 2 or email her on to book your Christmas party (it can be held in our Conference Room if you prefer somewhere more private) with family, friends or colleagues. Great value, great taste, all local. Here’s our Dish of the Week – Whole [Apley Estate] partridge braised with red cabbage & juniper & last week’s was herb breaded flat mushrooms – also photographed here.

All year round we offer fabulous Afternoon Teas, but at this time of year they become very festive – exact details will follow later this week.


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