Warden Pears

“I must have saffron to colour the Warden pies”

The Clown in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale.

Warden Pears are a variety of Pear closely associated with the Cistercian abbey at Old Warden. They have been in England since the 13th century, likely bought over from France by the Normans. The pears were very popular in the 15th century even being referenced in by William Shakespeare, as the above quote proves.

An example of the Worcester Black variety of pear. Warden pears are a much lighter colour.

Trees which bear the actual variety of Warden pears are now very rare and are definitely not commercially available. There is a small group of trees being preserved at Shuttleworth college, however. The closest that is available in modern times is the Black Worcester variety, probably a very closely related variety. Both of these have a hard fruit which needs to be cooked to be soft enough to be eaten.

There is a full history of the Warden Pear available in the wonderful Book, The Original Warden Pear by Margaret Roberts.