Aspall is derived from a Saxon description of its environment. The aspen tree was prominent in the area and the Saxon word for land in the bend of a river or between two rivers is 'halh'. Over time the two words to describe the area Aspen Halh became amalgamated to the single word 'Aspall'
There has been some form of settlement at Aspall for many hundreds of years. The first recorded mention of Aspall is in the Doomsday Book, commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1078.
ASPALL HALL | 1413 - Present
Aspall Hall has been owned by two families since the time of Henry V A.D. 1413-1422. Temple Chevallier purchased the hall from the Brooke family in 1702 at the age of 27 years. The Brooke family were connected to the Temples, of Stowe. Temple's father Clement Chevallier married Miss Susanna Temple an English lady who was a descendent of John Temple of Stowe.
The house is surrounded by a moat and is one of five houses in the surrounding area so designed. Interestingly if you draw diagonal lines between four of the houses the intersecting lines meet at Aspall Hall
Today the parish itself has a population of 30. The Church St Mary's of Grace still stands and a morning service is held every Sunday throughout the year.
As recently as the early 1900's the parish of Aspall had a big enough population to warrant its own School. A schoolhouse was built by the Rev. John Henry Chevallier and was in use until the 1930's.
Before settling in Suffolk the Chevalliers were residents of Jersey, having moved, as Huguenots, from France to flee Catholic persecution. At some point the Chevalliers were involved in the Crusades and as associates of the Knights Templar they earned the family name as knights on horseback - "chevalliers". The scimitar reflects their involvement in the campaigns of the "Holy Land" against the Saracens. Having moved to Jersey c 1400, the family consolidated itself as part of the establishment and at some point in the subsequent 300 years a memorial was erected to one of the family - of which the knight was a part.
It was JB Chevallier who first used the knight in the 1920's as the company logo.
The first records of the Chevalliers by name was in around 1200 in Normandy, however, the family tree extends way back to Rollo Robert - the first Duke of Normandy - who died in 932AD. That makes William the Conqueror a first cousin 28 times removed, and King Henry I a 26 times Great Grandfather to Barry and Henry, the eighth generation of cyder makers.
Harry worked with 3 generations of the Chevallier cyder makers; JB Chevallier, Perronelle Guild and John Chevallier from the 1920s to the 1970s. His unique cyders were influenced by the Norman heritage of the Chevalliers and hand crafted from the many bittersweet apple varieties found around Aspall Hall orchards. Harry is such an important part of our history, we've even named a cyder in honour of him.
Clement Benjamin Chevallier, who was from St. Heliers, Jersey, inherited Aspall Hall from his cousin Temple Chevallier following his death in 1722 and established Aspall Cyder in 1728. Missing his favourite tipple which wasn’t produced anywhere in Suffolk, Clement planted apple trees from Jersey and imported a granite trough as well as a stone wheel from the Isles de Chausee off the coast of Normandy. The trough and wheel were transported in pieces, first to Ipswich and then by cart to Aspall. The bill for this was £7.00 a considerable sum in those days and the bill is still to be found in Aspall Hall. The trough and wheel still stand to this day within the old Cyder House and were still in use up until 1951.
In the 1820s, Rev John 'Barley' Chevallier developed a high-yield strain of barley that, which by the turn of the 20th century, was used for three-quarters of the world's barley crops.
Temple was a famous mathematician and astronomer and one of Durham Universitiy’s first and only Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy. The lunar crater, Chevallier, is named after him.
He was instrumental in establishing the Durham University Observatory where he started the regular study of sunspots. A picture of the crater can be found here
A cousin to JB Chevallier, he spent much of his leave from the army at Aspall. When he was made an Earl, Kitchener took as his title Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and Baron of Aspall. Lord Kitchener would have Aspall Cyder shipped over to India for his troops.
Lord Kitchener would have Aspall Cyder shipped to wherever he was stationed.
After studying at Eton on a scholarship John Barrington Chevallier, known as JB, attended Cambridge and achieved a double first in Maths and Economics. He played in 4 FA Cup finals with the Old Etonions and was a founder member of Derby County FC. During his time at Aspall, he reared Red Poll Cows, kept bees and exported cyder to India. It was JB who first spelt cyder with a Y at Aspall. In the 1920’s. JB’s cydermaker Harry Sparrow would re-ferment the cyder with barley crystals to increase the alcohol to 11%. This made a more refined quality cyder which was sold in corked and wire muzzled bottles. The technique was reintroduced in 2009 when Aspall launched Cuvée Chevallier, a sparkling cyder. JB spelt cyder with a Y as this was indicative of the style he was producing. He also managed to send by mail order Aspall apples and cyder to as far north as Manchester using the local Mid Suffolk Light Railway as his means of distribution.
One of three daughters to JB, Perronelle was known to pole vault the moat that surrounds Aspall Hall. She was also one of the first women to attend Reading University. Perronelle played a key role in the business, ensuring it survived through the Second World War and running it for 40 years. Perronelle also established the strong organic heritage that Aspall has acquired and was a founder member of the Soil Association in 1946. A very active member of the family, Perronelle got the travelling bug whilst in her late seventies following her husband’s death in 1978, training for a trek to Kathmandu or a trip to Russia involved stomping through the orchards with a rucksack on her back. Perronelle was even a poster girl for Sainsburys in to her 90s. Perronelle lived to the age of 101 and drank Aspall Organic Cyder vinegar everyday. Her formidable presence within the family history has been recognised by having a cider named after her. Perronelle’s Blush is a true homage to a lady known for her rosy red cheeks.
John Chevallier took over the business in 1970 following a distinguished career in the Navy, taking it from distributing cyder locally in East Anglia to delivering multiple products much more widely and modernising some of the production processes as he did so. At the time of joining, there was only one member of staff working at the cyder house, yet he saw an opportunity to go in to apple juice and cyder vinegar production at first then adding wine vinegars thereafter, growing the business dramatically from a few health food shops in London to supplying large supermarkets across the country. In 1993, after more than 20 successful years running the business, John Chevallier retired, handing over the reins to his two sons Barry and Henry Chevallier Guild.
Since joining the business in 1993, Barry and Henry have worked hard to grow the business and produce premium liquid using the latest modern production equipment only when a marked improvement in quality can be achieved. Most recently their efforts have seen production increase four fold in the last 5 years. On joining the company they took to re-formulating the Aspall cyder blend to create the style of drink that is on sale today and is sold not only nationally, but internationally. In 2000 their efforts saw the relaunch of the cyder in a replica of the bottle used by JB Chevallier in the 20s and 30s. Both Barry and Henry hold esteemed roles within the Cider and Vinegar industry. Barry is the Chair of the Vinegar Committee of Culinaria Europe which supports producers by voicing its members’ interests and concerns to the European Commission and Parliament. Henry has recently completed his two year stint as Chair of the National Association of Cider Makers.