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The social and cultural value of the apple and the orchard in Victorian England

Crosby, Joanna (2020) The social and cultural value of the apple and the orchard in Victorian England. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis argues that the apple and the orchard were of greater significance to the Victorians than has been previously realised. This thesis brings together an investigation into the economic value of the apple crop and its associated goods and services, with an exploration of how the apple and the orchard were represented and received in cultural and social constructs. This thesis argues that the economic worth of the apple was greater than the commodity value of the raw crop of apples. That value itself has been underestimated due to the difficulties of calculating the amount of land used for orchards and the profit obtainable. The apple had a wider economic value, helping to expand the sectors of commercial horticulture, domestic gardening and food. Representations of the apple and of orchards drew on Classical landscapes, Christian allegory or the pre-Christian cultures in Europe to give authority to the meanings of an apple placed in a painting. These associations were brought together in the writing about, and the actual performance of, wassailing in the orchards at Christmas. The conclusions state that the economic value of the apple was greater than had been previously thought, and that the network of apple-related trades and livelihoods was extensive. The conclusions from the social and cultural investigation were that the appreciation of the apple was at its height in Victorian England, when the Victorians responded to increasing industrialisation and urban growth by using the apple symbolically to represent values of ‘Englishness’ through an idealised rural past. There was tension between the symbolism of orchards in landscape and genre paintings and the Christian associations of the apple with sin and deceit.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Joanna Crosby
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2021 08:53
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2021 08:53
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29461

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