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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 ... 1884


Our Victorian gardener Matthew 'Matty' Lightfoot, is best remembered for his role as Stamford's mace-bearer, but before he took up his position at the Town Hall, he was a member of the local constabulary. In April 1884 he received praise from the Stamford Mercury in a piece entitled 'Clever Captures By The Police'.

'On the 9th inst ... PC Lightfoot, of the Stamford Borough Police, visited the Police-station at Grantham, and reported that a robbery of twenty-one fowls had taken place at Stamford that morning: that two men were in custody, and a third, named Charles Hibbins - who had left Stamford on the 8.30 am train for Grantham, with a fish barrel, supposed to contain the fowls — was wanted.

Sergt Gray (who knew Hibbins) and PC Lightfoot at once started in search, and in ten minutes the man wanted was observed by Gray crossing the Market-place, in the direction of the Dysart Coffee Tavern, into which he went, followed by the two officers. When they arrived upon the scene, he was just ordering a pennyworth of soup. Not wishing to deprive him of this luxury, he was allowed to finish his meal, and then interrogated as to what he had done with the fish tub he had that morning brought from Stamford? Defendant replied, " Oh, it's up at Bob Fowler's, the Shepherd and Dog." On proceeding there, the old fish barrel, covered over with a piece of sacking, and containing twenty-one fowls, was found in an outhouse.

Hibbins, when charged with the offence, admitted having brought the tub from Stamford, but denied all knowledge of its contents, and said it was given him by a man named Rouse to bring to Grantham. He was taken away, and has since confessed that he and a man named Lenton ... committed the robbery.'(1)


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

(2) Photograph of Stamford Station kind courtesy of © John Evans via Flickr