The Plot Thickens

Hi, I’m Karen Meadows. Thank you for visiting The Plot Thickens.

I’m lucky enough to be the tenant of one of fifty large allotment gardens in the middle of the small and beautiful stone town of Stamford in England’s East Midlands. The gardens were first created by Brownlow Cecil, 4th Marquess of Exeter in the mid 1800s and their layout has remained virtually unchanged. Between the plots we have some 200 old apple trees, many of them rare varieties, and in 2017 Natural England awarded the gardens heritage orchard status.

Over the centuries at least 500 people have worked these plots. Follow our quest to discover who they were, what they grew, and what shenanigans they got up to. Be prepared for numerous diversions and musings along the way about gardening life here in our quiet (and occasionally not so quiet) little corner of Stamford.

If you haven’t discovered our website yet, do head over to Waterfurlong Orchard Gardens, where you will find a wealth of information about our gardens and gardeners, past and present.

And now for the small print...

The Plot Thickens is a non-commercial blog. All recommendations are based on personal preference and my own or our other gardeners’ own experience. Payments or free goods are not accepted in return for reviews of products and services. If an exception is made this will be clearly stated.

All words and images, unless otherwise credited, are my own. If you would like to copy text or images, I’d kindly ask that The Plot Thickens gets a positive mention and a link back to this blog.

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This Day In ... 1403

A LUCKY ESCAPE FOR CATTLE-RUSTLING CLERICS

Modern day Waterfurlong sits on the long-abandoned site of the medieval hamlet of Bradcroft or Bredcroft. One of Bradcroft's functions was making bread for the townspeople of Stamford; another was housing the Rutland court. The 16th century antiquarian John Leland wrote 'The sessions for Rutland were kept at Bredcroft. Those malefactors who were condemned there were executed at Tinwell Gallows, for Bredcroft is in Rutland, and the Gallows stood between Tinwell and Empingham. The Hall, or Sessions House, stood about a quarter of a mile on this side of the wash, on the northern bank of the mill river; the foundations may still be traced.'(1) This probably explains the rumoured origins of nearby Melancholy Walk, which was said to be the route the condemned were forced to walk to their hanging.

However, December 5th in 1403 proved surprisingly lucky for two Ashwell clergymen, John Cole and Thomas atte Brigge, who were brought before the Bradcroft bench for stealing eleven bullocks at Whissendine - a capital crime in the 15th century. Cole and Brigge successfully argued that their cases could only be heard by a church court. They were sent back to Oakham gaol whilst the matter was deliberated and John Cole managed not only to escape but also to wrangle a pardon from the King. The records do not show whether Thomas atte Brigge was as fortunate.

Very little is known about Bradcroft and a group of our gardeners is working with Professor Alan Rogers, a renowned authority on medieval Stamford, to try and learn more about this forgotten and fascinating aspect of the town's history.

(1) Leland's Topographical Notes c.1538-43, Bodleian Library Collection

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018


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