'OLD JOHN' OF BARNACK WAS BURIED
16th February 1881 saw the burial of John Avery, a retired member of the Burghley gardening team who remained active to the last. Working under head gardener Richard Gilbert, 'Old John' had been involved in developing and trialling apple varieties with wonderful local names such as The Post Office, St Mary’s Street, and The Butcher, sadly all now believed lost. The Burghley gardening staff lived in accommodation at the Barnack end of the estate and worshipped at the village's St John the Baptist church.
As The Mercury reported on 18th February:
‘On Wednesday the 16th inst John Avery, who has for nearly 40 years prepared the last resting place of the people of Barnack, was himself "gathered" to his final home. After a short illness he died on the 12th at the patriarchal age of nearly 80. He was a good specimen of the faithful servant, having been employed in the Burghley gardens for years, retiring three years ago on his pension for long service. By the wish of Lord Exeter he was borne to his grave by fellow workmen. For 35 years he held the office of sexton, which he filled so worthily that the punctuality and attention to the minutest detail by "Old John," as he was affectionately called, had become as proverbs.’
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2019