Sheila, 90, took cutting of 'world's largest vine' in 60s and it is still growing in Barkingside
PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 May 2019
A 90-year-old has revealed she took a piece of the world's largest grapevine from Valentines Park in the 1960s and has been growing it at home ever since.
The iconic 250-year-old great vine of Hampton Court was grown from a Black Hamburg cutting from the gardens of Valentines Mansion.
It produces an average of 272kg of black dessert grapes a year and measures 36.5 metres at its longest point.
But now Ilford and Hampton Court are not the only places in the world to have samples of the plant after Sheila, of Barkingside, said she took some cuttings after spotting it on a walk with her husband.
"We used to go to Valentines Park quite a lot - it is beautiful there," she told the Recorder.
"We just fancied having a grapevine so we took a little bit - I can't remember exactly how much we brought back with us.
"We must have done it in the 60s -a t the time I had a feeling the vine had something to do with Hampton Court."
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The couple cared for the plant for decades and grew so attached to it that when they moved house, they dug it up from their garden and took it with them.
"The cutting has now grown into a 4ft vine - we have to keep reining it back, it is hard to keep it under control," she added.
"It does produce a lot of grapes - little tiny things with pips.
"But by the time you take the pips out, there is not much left."
Shelia's husband Gordon died 10 years ago and the vine reminds her of all the walks the couple used to take around the borough together.
"I have eaten the grapes and I am still here so they must be edible," she added.
"They come out at autumn."
To mark 10 years of Valentines Mansion being open to the public, Hampton Court presented staff with a Black Hamburg vine last month.
It was put in a vase created by one of the mansion's resident artists and the public will be able to view it in August.