Martinstown Cyder Circle
A group was formed last year of like minded people who wanted to revive the making of Cyder by the traditional manner in Martinstown. Called “Cyder” because it’s made just using Apples with no additives involved. The original 5 members saw membership increase to 10 this year producing approx. 15 gallons in just a couple of pressings. Not a lot you may say but more than enough for us to enjoy the fruits of our labour at a later date. Hopefully, there will be a category in next year's Village Show.
All different types of apple are shredded then pressed to extract the juice. The juice is placed into a container with a bubble trap on top. No additives or yeast are added as this is not necessary, the liquor starts to ferment almost straight away. The demijohns are left until around Christmas time when then Cyder will have fermented fully. Most Cyders brewed in this manner turn out to be about 6%abv. Some remain cloudy as in Scrumpy whilst others are crystal clear. The taste can be adjusted at this time by blending with raw cane sugar to taste.
In years gone by Cyder was used as ‘part pay’ for farm labourers but it was watered down by the farmer who usually kept the best for his own use. The Cyder was healthier to drink than some of the water supplies.
In January when all the brewing/bottling has been done a celebration called a 'Wassail' was held. This entailed giving thanks to the apple trees placing bread/toast soaked in Cyder onto branches and making a lot of noise to drive away evil spirits from the orchards. I tend to think that what really attracted people was the drinking of large quantities of brew and having a feast, usually roast pork and apple sauce. Merry making went on well into the night.
MCC will be holding a Wassail Evening in the Village Hall on January 11th 2020. Tickets will be on sale closer to the event.
New Sign for Martinstown Washing Pool
The Washing Pool renovation has been partly funded by the Parish Council, Dorset Ridgeway Team and the Dorset AONB. Historical information, photo graphs etc courtesy of Margaret Hearing and co-ordination of the project by Martinstown Parish Council.
The Washing Pool is unique in its size and state of preservation. It is one of the rarer structures in this part of the country. A quick internet search throws up approx. another half dozen or so in various states of repair, none of the same original quality. In Dorset I believe there to be one only one other in Littlebredy near Bridehead but not in the same league.
As a small village, with a long history in the farming community, the Parish council thought that the Sheep Washing Pool renovation to be an important historic investment for the village and a visitor attraction. Already, the Pool has been visited by a group from New Zealand. The new information board will only add to that visitor experience and shortly we hope to erect a new finger post to tempt people to explore further than the Brewer's front door.