To the village school at Egton Bridge in Eskdale for the famous old Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Show. It’s a delightfully anachronistic contest that has been held on the first Tuesday in August for the last 200 years.
Gooseberry Shows were popular in the 19th century when giant gooseberries were grown in the damp allotments and cottage gardens of the north of England and which led to shows where gooseberries were grown for size rather than flavour. In 1845 the Gooseberry Growers Register recorded 117 competitions, now there are a handful in Cheshire and this one at Egton Bridge.
Don’t get too excited though. For all its quaint tradition, the event is seriously low key: a barrel organ, tombola and the competition that amounts to no more than a long table and rows of yellow plastic plates containing large veined gooseberries that only a gooseberry nerd could truly appreciate.
And it doesn’t get more nerdy than the weighing and measuring that takes place behind the scenes by a team of judges and weigh men, poring over a pair of Avery scales that measure in the ancient pennyweights of drams and grains.
This year, the winner of the Champion Berry was Bryan Nellist, an amateur gardener and retired gamekeeper from the Egton Estate, a giant of the gooseberry firmament. His Yellow Woodpecker came in at 25 drams and 21 grains, a mere babe compared to his winning gooseberry of 2009 which at 35 drams, 28 grains, or 2.19 oz, made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s heaviest gooseberry.