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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 ... 1861



Before setting up his famous Bedford nursery business, Waterfurlong gardener Thomas Laxton spent many years as a Stamford solicitor and barrister, working from his chambers in St Mary's Hill. In March 1861 we find him defending an (un-named) elderly and impoverished resident whose valiant attempts to keep himself out of the Workhouse had been shamefully exploited by Stamford officials.

'A suit was tried in the Stamford County Court on Monday last, the costs of defending which, it is thought, will not obtain the approval of the rate-payers of the parish of All Saints. The evidence of the aged plaintiff excited the sympathy of the hearers.

Being out of employment he applied to the assistant overseer of the parish for work, stating that if he could not obtain any he should be compelled to go to the Board of Guardians. He was told that one man was already employed on the roads in the parish, and that there were not available funds to employ more labour.

The applicant then said the accumulations of rubbish brought out of the town and adjacent fields from time to time and placed on the side of the Waterfurlong road needed removing, and if he might be allowed to apply his pickaxe to it and assort it for his own benefit he would not require any payment for his labour. This offer being considered advantageous to the parish it was at once accepted by the assistant overseer, the removal of the rubbish being desirable to prevent the passage of water in wet seasons down the centre of the road. Amongst the accumulations upwards of 20 loads of small stones were found, which the assistant overseer agreed to purchase for the use of the parish at the rate of 1s per load.

The overseers of the highways went out of office, and their successors (Messrs Loweth and Louth) did not appoint an assistant, saving the expense by doing the job themselves. They used the stones they found upon the road and refused to remunerate the old man for them! Mr Laxton, who appeared for the old man, said he himself was an occupier of a garden in Water-furlong, and could speak of the great improvement that had been effected by the removal of the rubbish and by the repair of the road with the stones found by the plaintiff amongst it. It is believed the parishoners will not allow this case to be brought in the court again, and that the value of the stones will be handed to the poor fellow.' Stamford Mercury (1)

Find out more about Thomas Laxton's eventful life and career on our web-page.

(1) The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. All Rights Reserved.

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