Rivers Heritage Site and Orchard

CoViD-19 update

7th November 2020: The current government guidelines allows volunteer organisations to continue work if this can be done in a safe manner. We will continue to run our maintenance days unless things change. We will be reviewing this decision each month. Teaching new volunteers is difficult under current guidelines, so we are still restricting this our experienced volunteers. Our latest safety measures can be downloaded from here.

25th October 2020: It is very unlikely that we will be able to host our usual Wassail event this year. We plan to replace this with a maintenance day if possible.

Upcoming Events

Maintenance Day: Sunday 6th December, at 10:30 in the Rivers Orchard. Maintenance day reports are available.

Latest News

Our mixed apple juice is for sale at Full of Beans at £3 per bottle or £5 for two. Our Cox/Bramley juice is available for collection from Sawbridgeworth or local delivery for those isolating. Please email us for information. We will sell at local stalls where possible.

Our intrepid volunteers braved the rain to collect this year's apple crop and we have an additional 629 bottles of mixed apple juice for sale.

Elizabeth Waugh's book "Rivers Nursery of Sawbridgeworth" is available buy again.

A full history of group news is avaiable here.

General Information

Initially formed in May 2014 and re-constituted in 2018, Rivers Heritage Site and Orchard (RHSO) is a volunteer group who work to protect, preserve and maintain the remaining Rivers Nursery site located West of Sawbridgeworth, Herts, UK and also maintain the historical information about the Rivers Nursery in the group's archives. We seek to continue the excellent work of previous volunteers on the current Rivers site.

The Rivers nursery was founded by John Rivers in 1725 and, when it closed in 1987, it was the oldest garden nursery in the UK. Many fruit varieties and horticultural techniques were developed on the site in Sawbridgeworth, especially by Thomas Rivers (1798-1877) and Thomas Francis Rivers (1830-1899). The history of the site was documented by Elizabeth Waugh in the 2009 book Rivers Nursery of Sawbridgeworth based on the archives of the group and interviews with local people. A brief history of the site is avaiable here.

The former nursery site is private land but is currently under a three year lease to Sawbridgeworth Council to allow access and maintenance of the orchard. The site can be accessed through a number public or permissive footpaths from Sawbridgeworth or High Wych. It is currently used by many local people for walking and peaceful enjoyment!

This site aims to provide information about the remaining Rivers Nursery site and the works of RHSO to maintain the site and its history as well as to promote the site as a community asset.

For further information about our work, please e-mail the RHSO committee. To be kept up to date on the groups events, please check the events page, join the mailing list or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.