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Burwell

origin:Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom   first record:1797   habit:Winter   grain colour:red/brown  references >>>  ID images >>>


BBA Burwell


The village of Burwell on the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk border became established as the source of the best quality truest to type Red Lammas seed during the 18th Century to the extent that it became recognised as distinct from it and at some points names Red Lammas and Burwell (or "Old Burwell") became inter changeable even where seed not actually from Burwell. In army birth records of the 19th Century its evident "Burwell" was often misspelt "Burrel" and this is most probably perpetuated in naming of UK accession 1168

Reference #1

General View of the Agriculture of the County of Suffolk by Arthur Young, 1797 LINK
"Burwell is in Cambridgeshire, on the border of Suffolk, near Newmarket Heath, a considerable part of which lies in Burwell parish, and where the greatest number of races are run: but as it is a place famous likewise for producing the best seed wheat in the kingdom, I shall take a pleasure in executing the task you have set me, in giving the best description of it I can. Burwell, then, is a large parish, containing within bounds nearly 7000 acres, 3000 of of which are arable, 500 are pasture, and the rest are fen grounds. The arable land is divided into three shifts, two of which produce corn every year, viz. wheat and barley, and the third is fallow. The greatest number of acres under the plough are called white lands, as the appearance of the land in dry weather is white, on account of its being a shallow soil, lying near the white stone, and not being a spit deep in many places. There is another sort of plough land in the parish, which is called red land, lying down towards Newmarket Heath; but the quantity of this is very small, when compared with the white land, and its quality is far inferior. It is the white land which produces the true seed wheat which is in great request in the north, on account of its becoming ripe much sooner than any other seed that is sown, and consequently makes an earlier harvest in a cold climate. This wheat bears the highest price in the market, and is threshed as soon as it is got into the barn, that is, it is only topped out, not threshed to straw, and the sheafs are tied up again, and laid up for some time before they are threshed again to straw, so that it is the ripest and best part of the ear from which the seed is obtained in the early threshing. The reason why this white land wheat is so beneficial for seed, I humbly think, is owing to the saltpetre with which the soil is impregnated, arising from the white stone underneath it; and what has confirmed me in this opinion is, that my house is built with the same stone, dug out of the pits, and the walls, in damp weather, are always wet with saltpetre, and produce a great deal of moisture after a frost."

Reference #2

British Farmer’s Magazine, Volume 3 by James Ridgway, 1839 LINK
"A very favourite stock of red wheat has for many years been grown under the name of Burwell wheat. The parish of Burwell near Newmarket appears to be very favourable to the growth of wheat the quality there produced being singularly plump and in colour greatly resembling the yellow Lammas in its best estate. We are inclined to attribute any fame it may have acquired more to local circumstances than to any inherent superiority in the stock of wheat because it has happened to us on more than one occasion to come in contact with this wheat on soils very different from that of Burwell and the consequence has been a proportionate deviation and falling off from the quality of the parent stock so much so indeed as hardly to exhibit a trace of its original features."

Other reference

Rural England: Being an Account of Agricultural and Social Researches Carried Out in the Years 1901 and 1902 by H. Rider Haggard, 1906 LINK

Identification images

Old Burwell link





Germplasm link

Old Burrel GRU-JIC (GBR) #1168