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Elsie Davies

7th November 2014

I had the honour to give part of the eulogy at a funeral today. The funeral was for Elsie Davies. She was 102. Nothing so unusual in that.

But Elsie left a legacy:

Her legacy is a walnut variety which she discovered and entered in a national competition held by East Malling research station in 1929 and promoted by the Daily Mail. There were 700 walnut varieties entered in the competition and Elsie's won. Her prize was a beautiful silver cup embossed with a walnut. She named her walnut variety the 'Excelsior of Taynton'. Taynton is the Gloucestershire village where Elsie used to live.

Years went by and while I had heard of the by now almost mythical walnut variety, it was now lost. I was surprised to hear in 2002 that Elsie was still very much alive - aged 90. I contacted her and she told me her story. She was distraught to hear that her beloved walnut was lost. That was until I had a telephone conversation with Nick Dunn of Frank P.Matthews Fruit Trees of Tenbury Wells. It turned out that he had been just given an old map of the 1930s which showed the position of an Excelsior of Taynton walnut tree. He located the tree, took grafts and propagated them. He donated a young sapling so that it could be planted back in its original location in Taynton.

The ceremonial planting was carried out by Elsie who, although aged 90 got down on her hands and knees to make sure the planting was done properly!


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Charles Martell
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