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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

Tom Sandall's Journal: The Daylight Saving Bill

As we get ready to put the clocks forward, it's interesting to read the Stamford Institution's thoughts on the novel concept of Daylight Savings (or, as Tom Sandall puts it, Sunset Delay) five years before its introduction.

Tom Sandall writes in his journal for 1911:

'On 25th April I came out at the Institution in a new character of a lecturer on the Daylight Saving Bill, which I was told came off successfully though there was not so much discussion as I should have liked. Though at present the subject is in the background I cannot but think the Bill will become an Act of Parliament before long. The Mercury reported it herewith:


A large and representative company listened to an interesting lecture delivered by Mr Thos Sandall upon the above subject in the reading-room of the Stamford Institution on Tuesday evening. Mr M S Young (President) was in the chair and among those present were the Mayor (Mr Jas Dalton), the Rev Dr Barnard, Messrs T S Duncomb, R March, J B Corby, F K Parker, R Tidd, E S Bowman, W H Poole, A Cade, A T Houldsworth, Herbert Knight, H H Small, and others.

The President, in the opening remarks, said they owed a great debt of gratitude to Mr Sandall for being the first to inaugurate what he hoped would be a succession of most interesting lectures which would not only be a benefit to the Institution but to all who listened to them. Mr Sandall expressed a hope that as the autumn came round they would be able to arrange a series of lectures.

The subject of his discourse that evening was one he had been deeply interested in for some time. He proceeded to give a general outline of the Bill, which it was pointed out would bring into use one of the hours of sunshine now wasted in summer mornings when most people were asleep, and give them the benefit thereof during their leisure at the end of the day. This could be secured if by legal enactment the hands of all clocks were moved forward one hour on a given date in the spring and backward in the autumn.

It was really a sunset delaying Bill, the effect being that the clock time of sunset would be deferred by one hour, consequently an hour more of their leisure after the day’s work was over would be spent in sunlight instead of darkness. An extra hour of daylight in the evening would defer lighting-up time, so that the cost of one hour’s artificial light each night would be saved. As a director of the Gas Company it might be said he was going against his own interest, but he had gone into the question and calculated that if the Bill was passed there would be a saving in artificial light in Stamford amounting to about £500.

The lecturer showed how all workers whose leisure hours were limited would be benefited; they would have more time for games, cycling, gardening, photography and other hobbies and the Territorials would be able to devote more time to their drills. He dealt with the objections to the Bill, and pointed out its special advantages to those engaged in business. Discussion ensued, the speakers