HEREFORDSHIRE will feature prominently in a much-loved TV programme this weekend.

The county and its culture will be on full display in the next episode of Countryfile, which will centre around Adam Henson restoring his ancient orchard in the Cotswolds.

According to Hilary Engle of Herefordshire's Fair Oak Cider, Adam was originally supposed to visit her horse-drawn cider mill in Bacton, which is the only one of its kind currently in operation.

She said that after informing the Countryfile crew that Fair Oak had already finished their cider-making for the year she instead invited them to film a traditional Herefordshire wassail in Longtown, a centuries-old tree blessing ritual that is said to help promote the growth of cider apples.


At the event, Adam was first noticed by locals mingling with the crowd that had gathered at the village hall in anticipation of the event, interviewing a number of people including Hereford Times reporter Joshua Dyer about what the ancient custom meant to them. He then took part in a torch-lit procession through the village, heading towards the ruins of Longtown Castle.

Once he reached the castle’s ramparts, he was offered a cup of hot Fair Oak cider by Mrs Engle. After a quick interview about her business and its unique mill, he joined the crowd in a circle around a small group of trees within the ruins.

The crew filmed musicians and dancers from Foxwhelp Morris, accompanied by a hobby horse named ‘Nessy’, entertaining the crowd, with morris man Jed Dunn leading the wassail ceremony.

Cameras watched on as 12 fires were lit by the audience at the edge of the circle, symbolising the light of the sun, the 12 months of the year and possibly the disciples of Jesus Christ.

An offering of cider-soaked toast and a libation of the previous year’s cider, sourced from Gwatkins Cider in Abbey Dore, were then given to a tree in the hopes of encouraging a good yield of apples.

The Countryfile crew packed up after the ceremony concluded, whilst locals made their way back to the village hall for food, drink, music and a mummers play.

The episode featuring Herefordshire is set to air at 6 pm on January 28.