Rosemary Bett, who died on 28 August, was instrumental in the preservation and recording of Jersey’s cider and apple history.
The following tribute to her has been paid by Julia Coutanche of Jersey Heritage and a member of the Jersey Cider Apple Trust:
‘I am very sorry indeed to hear that Rosemary Bett passed away. Rosemary was and always will be an absolute hero to me, a truly inspiring individual. She did so much for the preservation and recording of Jersey’s cider and apple history. The work she did with Brian Phillipps was so important in identifying cider apple varieties and making sure that trees were planted at Trinity and Hamptonne then the Elms, keeping for posterity information about local cider makers, apples and the finished product i.e. cider.
‘Rosemary also instigated and created the herb and vegetable gardens at Hamptonne. I was always in awe of Rosemary’s youthful and enthusiastic attitude to life and recall her setting out to do treks and go on holidays to far-flung locations well into her late seventies and early eighties. She certainly seemed to make the most of life! May she rest in peace.
‘I recall our CEO, Jon Carter, once saying that at a meeting, the subject of what image would “sum up” Jersey’s history and heritage was being discussed and Rosemary Bett said that her choice would be an apple.
‘Thankfully Jersey Heritage has sound recordings of Rosemary, from when we organised cider oral history collections locally with the UK writer and apple expert James Crowden. At the start, Rosemary talked a bit about her background and what had planted the seed of an interest in apples:
‘I was born in Greenwich in London, and I lived mostly in England. I came to Jersey because my in-laws lived here, and after they and my husband died I came here to live. Interested in cider, I was lucky to be on the National Trust Council here, and looking after a small collection of potential cider trees set up by Henry Perrée a long time ago. Unfortunately the grafting chap had mixed labels up. They had been planted at The Elms on the edge of the stream, then moved to Morel Farm, and I needed to replace some. So I found out about cider trees grown in the Island, and was well placed to find out what had happened after the Great Storm.
‘The Great Storm of 1987– it blew out about a third of the trees in the Island. So I started a project to see if cider trees had survived the storm.
‘There was no orchard interest in my family. I was a child during the war. My mother was a doctor and father no longer was with us, so we had to look after the garden at home. I didn’t know about apples until here. My mother was a great gardener so she paid us a little bit to look after the garden. Getting involved with the National Trust got me interested in horticulture. Apple cider interest was triggered by the storm, really.’
*A tribute to Rosemary will be made at the annual general meeting of the Jersey Cider Apple Trust, which takes place this year on 16 September at Samarès Manor.
Members will meet at 5pm for a visit to the Manor gardens, which will include a short walk to the cider orchard at La Fauvellerie. This will be followed at 6.00 pm by the 17th annual general meeting
New members are welcome if numbers allow, in respect of coronavirus regulations. But all those intending to come are asked to let the honorary secretary, John Clarke, know, as soon as possible, by e-mailing email@example.com