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Southwell Town Council support idea for statue of first Bramley Apple tree planter Mary Ann Brailsford

The woman who planted the first Bramley Apple tree could be celebrated in statue form.

Southwell Town Council’s Market Working Group is to put forward a proposal for the art piece after getting the green light at the council’s Town Environment committee meeting last week (May 8).

It would depict Mary Ann Brailsford, who as a young girl in 1809 planted a pip in the garden of her home on Church Street — which grew into the first Bramley Apple tree.

The original Bramley Apple Tree in Southwell, grown from a pip planted by Mary Ann Brailsford.
The original Bramley Apple Tree in Southwell, grown from a pip planted by Mary Ann Brailsford.

However, Mary moved out of the house after she was married so may never have seen the fruit produced.

She did not live to see the fame of the Bramley Apple, which was first sold by Henry Merryweather in 1876, and was named after a later owner of the house and tree, Matthew Bramley.

Nottingham Trent University currently owns and works to preserve the original Bramley tree — which, alongside it’s fruit, is a popular attraction for the town which holds a yearly Bramley Apple festival with visitors from as far away as Japan.

The idea of a statue to commemorate Mary Ann was well supported by councillors.

Lyn Harris presented the item, and suggested funding could potentially be sourced from an arts grant provided to Newark and Sherwood District Council.

She added that when people visit other towns there’s often a nice sculpture to look at, and gave the example of the Civil War Roundhead and Cavalier soldier statue on Beastmarket Hill, Newark.

Peter Harris said: “I do think its something we should look at.”

He was also pointed out that it would be good have a female sculpture — with the claim that just 7% of sculptures worldwide are of women.

Penny Rainbow also offered her support for the idea, but added: “I think the siting of it is quite critical.

“We don’t want people crossing the road to get to it.”

She suggested the Market Square could be a good place for it, to ensure people can view it safely.

Peter Harris added that there had been previous discussions of creating a statue of Mary Ann — with a past proposal for a sculpture on the burgage having been turned down because it was “too twee”.

He also pointed out that it would need consideration as to what it was made of, and the value of that material, to ensure “long term viability”.

It was agreed that a formal proposal for the statue should be brought back to the council.

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