We had a glance at the fruit and vegetable market of London in Edward the Second's reign,* and with the great advances in gardening since that time, it is most probable that the market had also increased, and the market gardeners multiplied. Then, as now, the great place for market gardens was the immediate vicinity of London, but some were planted even in the heart of the town, as the following quotation shows :— " About the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII., the poor people of Portsoken Ward, East Smithfield, were hedged out, and in place of their homely cottages, such houses builded as do rather want room than rent, and the residue was made into a garden by a gardener named Caws way one that serveth the market with herbs and roots." †
* Expression often used probably for the sake of rhythm. =weed, or destroy, wild mallow, a common weed. † = good girl, or lass. ‡ Hampton Court Account.
The largest supply of fruit trees came from the orchard at Tenham, in Kent. The history of its establishment is related in a curious and rare pamphlet, entitled, The Husbandman's Fruitful Orchard, 1609. The author is unknown, but the epistle to the reader is signed " thy well-willer N.F." ‡ " One Richard Harris of London, borne in Ireland Fruiterer to King Henry the eight fetched out of Fraunce great store of graftes especially pippins, before which time there were no pippins in England. He fetched also out of the Lowe Countries, cherrie grafts and Peare graftes of diuers sorts : Then tooke a peese of ground belonging to the king in the Parrish of Tenham in Kent being about the quantitie of seaven score acres : whereof he made an orchard, planting therein all those foraigne grafts. Which orchard is and hath been from time to time, the chiefe mother of all other orchards for those kinds of fruit in Kent and diuers other places. And afore that these said grafts were fetched out of Fraunce and the Lowe Countries although that there was some store of fruite in England, yet there wanted both rare fruite and lasting fine fruite. The Dutch and French finding it to be so scarce especially in these counties neere London, commonly plyed Billingsgate and diuers other places, with such kinde of fruit, but now (thankes bee to God) diuers gentlemen and others taking delight in grafting . . . have planted many orchards fetching their grafts out of that orchard which Harris planted called the New Garden".
* See page 40.
† Stowe, Survey of London. Ed. 1598, p. 139. ‡ Imprinted for Roger Jackson, London.
When Drayton wrote his Polyolbion, in 1619-22, the orchard must still have been flourishing, as he alludes to it thus, " Rich Tenham undertakes thy closet to suffice with cherries."—Song XVIII.
This orchard is supposed to have produced cherries which sold for £1000 in the year 1540*"; an immense sum for those days, and it seems an exaggeration when compared with the ordinary prices of cherries, found in the household books about this date; for instance, " Item 9th Julye 1549, 2 lbs. cherrys at my Ladye's comandemente IVd.," and again, " 27th Julye 1549, 4 pond of cherrys IVd."f It is difficult to arrive at the ordinary prices given for garden produce. They must, of course, have varied with the seasons, and the quality of the fruit. The difficulty of conveying fruit to market must have kept up the price. One gardener might have great abundance of a certain fruit, while at no great distance a high price was being paid for like wares, but owing to the difficulties of communication, he would be unable to take advantage of this market for his goods. But that they made as much profit as they could, and were not always fair in their dealing, the following Law proves:— " 2 & 3 Edward VI. c, 15.—Forasmuch as of late divers sellers of victuals not contented with moderate and reasonable gain . . . . have conspired and covenanted together, to sell their victuals at unreasonable prices—butchers, brewers, bakers .... costermongers, or fruiterers, £10 fine or twenty days imprisonment and bread and water for his sustenance, second offence £20 and the pillory, third offence £40 or pillory and ears cut off".
The increase in the number of orchards seems to have rendered their legal protection necessary, as another very curious act was passed:—37th Henry VIII. c. 6, sect. 3.— .... "Any person maliciously, willingly or unlawfully, after the said first May (1545) cut or cause to be cut off the ear or ears of any of the King's subjects otherwise than by authority of the law, chance-medley, sudden affray, or adventure : (6) or after the said day maliciously, willingly or unlawfully, bark any apple trees, pear trees, or other fruit trees of any other person or persons (7) that then every such offender and offenders shall not only lose and forfeit unto the party grieved treble damages for such offence or offences, the same to be recovered by action of trespass, to be taken at the common law, but also shall lose and forfeit to the King's Majesty and his heirs, for every such offence X £ sterling in the name of a fine".
* Johnson, Hist. English Gardening, 1829, p. 56. Philips' Companion to the Orchard. Ed. 1821, p. 79.
† Le Strange, Household Books.
Saffron continued to be largely used and grown for the market, and sold at a high price. In the accounts of the Monastery of Durham, " Crocus," or saffron, is of frequent occurrence. In 1531 half a pound was bought in July; the same quantity in August and in November, a quarter of a pound in September, and a pound and a half in October ; these items give us some idea of the consumption. In 1539-40 the saffron was bought from Thos. Freeman, of Doncaster, and of a merchant from Cambridge, to the latter, for six and a half pounds of " crocus" £7. 8s. was paid. In 1538 it was bought at " Braydforth fayre." Although it was not cultivated at all in the north, and, as the above quotations show, had to be imported from the Eastern counties, saffron commanded almost as high a price in that part of the country. At Hunstanton, in Norfolk, on " March 26th, 1536, one ounce of saffron cost 8d. and old saffron 12d, the ounce."*