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August 24, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Archives – the Red House

2016-08-21, George Davies & wife Ada, April 1935

George Davies & wife Ada, April 1935

2016-08-21, photos of The Red House in Aug 2016 001

The Red House today

2016-08-21, map showing Red HouseI met up again with Elwyn Jones on Friday in Apley Farm Shop’s Creamery Cafe, when he shared with me this photo of his Aunt Ada & Uncle George Davies on their wedding day in April 1935.

Their son Gerald wrote a booklet about what he knew of their lives in The Red House 1935-1938. I don’t yet know

who lived there before Mr & Mrs Davies, but do know they moved there with no running or electricity, which must have been a big shock for Ada who’d moved from Wolverhampton.  George Davies may have lived in the Redhouse before 1935. He loved nature, so clearly would have loved living in the middle of the woods.

We wondered if there was a link between the Balls foundry on the opposite side of the river & The Red House. Balls Foundry was named after its owner Benjamin Ball, but it was originally operated by John Wilkinson in association with the New Willey Ironworks. There was a tramway from the works down Tarbatch Dingle to a wharf (Willey Wharf) next to the foundry. It was here that Wilkinson’s iron boat was launched.  When the ironworks closed Benjamin Ball took over the foundry and continued to work it until at least 1829 but it seems to have closed by 1835.

Forge Cottage (over the river, by Apley Bridge) had a blacksmith living there in 1901, but there had been ironworks there as early as 1765. There were also ironworks in the Linley Brook as early as the 1630s (which I detailed in an earlier blog).

During our conversation, Elwyn told me his great grandfather drowned trying to rescue a waggoner in difficulties crossing the river.  It surprised me that anyone at any time had tried to ford the river – but perhaps it was once possible during the drier months of the year. He was buried at Astley Abbotts in 1913. Steve Dewhirst sent me a map showing that the right of way crosses the river from Balls Foundry to the Apley Estate side of the river. He’d always wondered if this was a ferry, but this story confirms it was a ford.  There is a creek showing on this map here, which also suggests residents used the river for access.

Both Elwyn’s great grandfather & grandfather lived at 5 Apley Forge. His grandfather Lewis Davies rented fields from the Apley Estate & as well as working as a plate layer on the GWR railway line (which passed Linley Station until 1963) & running a small holding with cows, pigs & chickens. His great grandfather George Frederick Davies lists himself as gardener (domestic) – I wonder if that was at Apley Hall (Apley Park).

An important thing about this house is its name – it must have been very distinctive from the others in the area (which may have been from sandstone) to have been called the Red House or simply due to the contrast between the brick of the house when every where around was green foliage.  To me, Apley Walled Gardens red bricked walls don’t look as old as pre-1775 & I’d say the same of the old ironmaster’s house by Apley Bridge (which dates back to the 1630s).  I’ll do more research & hopefully come closer to an answer soon.

Steve sent me the 1901 & 1811 censuses & it’s not mentioned, but there is a house on the 1901 census called Riverside, between Old Park Farm and Apley Farm which makes sense.  On the 1911, he could only find ‘Sevenside’, which may be a different cottage altogether.

Access now to the Red House is now extremely difficult & strictly private.


August 23, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Selections of the week at Apley Farm Shop

2016-08-16, AWG progress, Golden Globe courgette (1)

Golden Globe courgettes, 82p per kg

2016-08-17, DOTW Warm green beans, halloumi & potato salad with olives

Warm green beans, halloumi & potato salad with olives, £7

Here are our weekly selections for you to enjoy at Apley Farm Shop:

Dish of the week: Warm green beans, halloumi & potato salad with olives £7

Cake of the week: Chocolate fudge cake £2.95

Sausage of the week: Pork with lemon & country herb £5.95

Cheese of the week: Brie de meaux £1.90 100g

With this lovely hot weather, we have 38 for Teddy Bears’ Picnic tomorrow, down on the Skylark Nature Trail, 12-2pm. Plus Activ8 are holding their fabulous holiday club 9-3pm on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday.

Pick up some of these fabulous Golden Globe courgettes whilst there – fabulous overn baked & stuffed or just for soup.

August 22, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Harvest & Craft Fair on Saturday 24 Sept

2016-08-22, AFS - Harvest Food Festival jpeg 1 2016-08-22, AFS - Harvest Food Festival jpeg 2We’re gearing up for our Apley Harvest Fair on Saturday 24 Sept, 10-4pm. They day will be a mix of the region’s finest food producers & local Shropshire crafters. It runs 10-4pm, is a free event & is always a great day out for all the family.

Also included here are our events for the rest of the year. Paint & Create just added that they’ll be stocking some spooky Halloween pottery for the October half term.

Also, they’ve got another Potter’s Wheel Drop in Day tomorrow, Tuesday 23 August, 10-4pm. “Have-a-go day! Drop in and try it out, suitable for all ages (over 5) £5 per person including your own pot to take home. £2 extra for glaze and fire.”

Plus Activ8 are back 9-3pm on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday on Apley Farm Shop’s event field, starting in Pigg’s Playbarn. Just turn up or call Dan on 07904 944 833 or email

Big Little Things just told me their 11 Dec Christmas (it’s too early to think about that surely!) workshop has sold out  – hoorah, but hurry if you want a place on one of their other workshops listed below.

August 21, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Scotty’s Animal Park beach weekend TODAY at Apley Farm Shop

2016-08-15, Homegrown greengagers

Homegrown greengages

2016-08-20, Vegetarian savoury crumble image

Vegetarian savoury crumble

2016-07-21, AWG progress (3)

Apley Walled Garden cucumber

Today is day 2 of the Scotty’s Animal Park beach weekend at Apley Farm Shop – I’m sure it’ll be great fun & sunnier than yesterday at least !

Here are a few snippets of Apley foodie news too: It’s that time of year again when there are enough Golden Globe globe courgettes to feed an army. Beryl just made us a vegetarian savoury crumble last week with them, which was totally delicious – such a treat.

The garden is dripping with these greengages, plums fall into my hand in the farm shop courtyard, cucumbers are growing fast in the Walled Garden greenhouses, sometimes in the wrong direction (like this one here). It’s all building up to the Apley Harvest & Craft Fair on Saturday 24 September, 10-4pm (the shop is open 9:30-5pm). NB. We had thought it would be also Sunday 25 Sept, but is now just on Saturday.

August 19, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Spookley Pumpkin Festival at Apley Farm Shop

Layout 1Today, when I was buying one of my favourite foods at the farm shop cash till today, a customer asked Spookley details. It’s a long way off, but ready here & now:

For a great half term NON SCARY Halloween experience, climb aboard the Pumpkin Express, when you can hear the Spookley story being read by a friendly Mrs Pumpkin. The Express will take you to the pumpkin patch where you can select your own pumpkin. Once back in the courtyard, you can carve it & enter our daily competition for the best carved pumpkin, to be judged at 5pm on Saturday 31 October when the 3 winners will receive a prize.

On each ride there will be six VIP Orange tickets available which entitle the holder to first choice of seats on the Pumpkin Express & their own copy of Spookley, the Square Pumpkin book worth £5.95.  Book soon as these will go fast!

For the Pumpkin Express, turning up on the day is OK, but some days were very busy in previous years. Booking will guarantee your place. Just go to to book tickets.

As you leave via the Farm Shop, don’t forget to buy your very own copy of the book ‘Spookley the Square Pumpkin’ & even your own soft Spookley toy or DVD film (available from Alley Katz toy shop in the Courtyard). The story book carries a strong anti-bullying message, which is shared with school children across the country.* Pumpkin Carving Cavern does not require pre-booking.

To complete your Spookley experience, pop into the Creamery Café for lunch & select our delicious pumpkin soup in the Creamery Café, served in a mini pumpkin with a pumpkin muffin.

Please note all adults riding the Pumpkin Express must book a place & a minimum of one responsible adult must accompany a child/group of children.

We’re giving away free pumpkin recipe cards, so when you buy a pumpkin in the Farm Shop you can get cooking at home!

There will also be a free friendly pumpkin trail on the Skylark Nature Trail, for all to try out.

August 18, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Current offers at Apley Farm Shop

2016-07-22, Apley Passport backHere’s a quick summary of the current offers at Apley Farm Shop, the Creamery Cafe & Pigg’s Playbarn:

In the Creamery Café or Pigg’s Playbarn, here are the 4 ways you can enjoy a free small standard tea* or coffee*

  1. When you buy any 9 hot drinks when stamped in coffee/tea card.
  2. With the Apley Farm Shop Passport (right here)
  3. With any cake for Telford & Wrekin safari map holders.
  4. With our 2016 tourist leaflet.

In Pigg’s Playbarn Maxcard holders receive a discount.

On our butchery counter, you can win a barbecue pack by simply dropping in your business card. Easy peasy ! Next winner will be chosen on 31 Aug – not long!

Click HERE for the T&Cs.


August 17, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden progress

2016-08-16, AWG progress (1)

Moon over Apley Walled Garden

2016-08-16, AWG progress (13)

Patty pan squash

2016-08-16, Apley cucumbers

Apley cucumbers

Apley Walled Garden is a heavenly place to spend an evening at this time of year – if you can NOT focus on how weedy it has all become. Tomorrow, Apley Farm Shop will have patty pan squash, globe courgettes (great with tops sliced off & stuffed with minced beef & rice), Apache potatoes (the pink & white patchy ones), borage & viola flowers for salads & dozens of Yellow Pershore plums (the weight of the fruit even broke 1 of the branches).  As I picked the plums (& ate 6 myself!), the heat I felt emanating from the walls was as if the boilers were working again.

I had delicious roast tomato soup in a very sunny Apley courtyard with Natasha, catching up on her day of marketing & mine. I met with the butcher to run through marketing for the next quarter, up to & including Christmas (can you believe it), then did the same with the head chef. Really glad to have met with them both & to cover so much ground.

Cheese of the week is Godminster £2.27 per 100g – great news there, thanks to Lora, we’ve been listed as one of the UK’s top 10 (out of 100) cheese counters by the Guild of Fine Foods. So well done to Lora & her team. Sausage of the week is caramelised red onion £5.95 – anything with caramelised onions is bound to be good !

August 15, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Snippets of Apley Farm Shop news

2016-08-10, Cake of the week, Lemon & Elderflower sugar syrup soaked sponge

Cake of the week, Lemon & Elderflower sugar syrup soaked sponge

Octavia picking Octavia raspberries

Octavia picking Octavia raspberries

Combine being fixed by the John Deere engineers

Combine being fixed by the John Deere engineers

Apley Park tractor & discaerator

Apley Park tractor & discaerator

We’re limbering up for Pigg’s Playbarn Sports Day – Wed 17 Aug, 10-12noon. It’s free with the usual playbarn admission prices. Francis has lined up the whole family & friends, doing time trials on the lawn, ready for the big day (I came 4th (by 0.56 seconds) rather depressingly!).

Our combine & its accompanying tractors & trailers, have been working very early & very late on these lovely hot & sunny August days, harvesting wheat & barley. They’ve started using the discaerator already, which leaves slits in the soil to begin breaking it up before ploughing).

Bit by bit (tricky, as it has to be done in the evenings, as we’re open 7 days a week, with staff onsite approx 8-6pm) we’ve been smartening up the Apley Farm Shop offices at last – a lick of paint, carpet cleaning, picture hanging … all makes it a more pleasant environment to spend the day in!

Lots of the Apley team wished a very fond farewell to Lora who’s been a fab playbarn manager then farm shop supervisor over the past couple of years. She’s off for a holiday to see Brenda who’s been so helpful at Apley Farm Shop for the last year, but who’s now returned to Spain.

Natasha & I are finalising our next event, the Apley Harvest & Craft Fair, 24-25 Sept, 10-4pm. It’s a free event as usual, with free tasters from Shropshire’s finest producers. Many just love to see what the crafters have been making. Others are more food-orientated, heading for the tasters. It’s always a lovely Autumn event.

I’ve been looking at marketing strategies in each department – what we need no longer do, what we’re not doing which we should be doing, what works well & not quite so well, targets for the next quarter, improving the functionality of our website & preparing for Sept, Oct, Nov & Dec as well as 2017 (it’s just round the corner !)

Meantime, in the farm shop, we have new, branded insulated bags especially for customers shopping on these hotter days. Our branded deli wrap is now in use on the Delicatessen & Butchery counters.

We’ve developed an Afternoon Tea (gets increasingly popular) cheque book. Tea includes sandwiches, scones, Lord Hamilton’s [loose] tea blend & cake of the week, which this week is Lemon & Elderflower sugar syrup soaked sponge.

August 13, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Children’s activities next week at Apley Farm Shop

2016-08-13, Big Little Things kids' flower workshop (1)On Wednesday 10 August, Big Little Things, the florist & gift shop in Apley Farm Shop’s shopping courtyard, held a children’s workshop & sent me this feedback:

The children enjoyed doing something creative that was more unusual from regular kids everyday crafts. The parents seemed genuinely blown away too with the finished flower arrangements created by their children. 

We still have a couple a spaces on next Wednesday 17 August workshop. It runs from 10.30am to 12.00pm and is aimed at children between the ages of 4-12 years of ages. The cost is £12.00 per child which includes all materials, light refreshment and the finished flower arrangement to take home.”

Also on next week is:

  1. Monday – Scotty’s Monday animal encounter on Mon 15 Aug
  2. Wednesday – Sports Day organised by Pigg’s Playbarn staff on Wed 17 Aug 10-12noon. (as well as the BLT workshop, mentioned above)
  3. Thursday – Scotty’s pet encounter on Thurs 18 Aug
  4. Friday – EKO 24hr sleepover on Friday 19 August
  5. Saturday & Sunday – Scotty’s beach weekend 20-21 Aug

In between all that, don’t forget to enjoy an Apley picnic on our FREE Skylark Nature Trail & watch the combine harvesters gather in this year’s crops. Get creative for an hour in Paint & Create, painting pottery – it’s so therapeutic, relaxing & satisfying!

We’ve got the summer holidays covered – something on every day for the children indoors & outdoors. Stay for a snack or meal in our Creamery Cafe or pick up a delicious ready made meal option from our Apley Butcher & Apley Delicatessen counters.

August 12, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden overflowing with produce

2016-08-09, Rename (1)

Homemade warm raspberry & strawberry coulis

Walnuts not quite ready

Walnuts not quite ready

We’ve spent yet another team family early evening last night in Apley Walled Garden harvesting the abundant fruit & vegetables ready for the weekend. The fruit cages have been cleverly planted to avoid gluts & famines. So now the raspberries are nearly over, the gorgeous loganberries are ready. We’ve missed the gogiberries & seem to have lost the blueberries, but blackcurrants were perfectly ripe, following the red currants last week. Within a month, the cultivated blackberries will be ready as well. The artichokes are over, the patti-pan squash are perfect, sweet peas & courgettes too. we’ll have to wait a month or more for the hazelnuts & walnuts.

Best of all is the huge harvest of cucumbers in one of the old greenhouses, restored with plastic roofs. Gavin pruned the tomato plants, as the first tomatoes are becoming available. I love the smell of tomato plants & the warmth (23 degrees there this evening) of the greenhouses. I’ve forgotten to mention the carrots & radishes – so much fresh, local & basically ‘organic’ produce (it’s very bio-ethically produced, but we’re not registered with the Soil Association).

The Apley Harvest & Craft Fair at Apley Farm Shop is this year being held over two days 24-25 Sept in our shopping courtyard. Visitors will enjoy free tasters from local food producers & meeting face to face with local Shropshire crafters. It runs 10-4pm on both days & is under the cover of marquees in case of Autumnal showers ! It’s free entry & always a fun day out for all the family.

On my way to catch up with colleagues in the farm shop today, I passed our farm manager Adrian who’s very happy with this lovely dry week for harvesting, though he needed these John Deere engineers to fix a belt on our combine harvester. Some fields have already been baled & disc-aerated.


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