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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.

Recent Posts

This Day In ... 1881


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

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