top of page

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: 1854 - 1862


Aylesbury Old Bank - Tom Sandall's annotation showing his room

Tom Sandall was born 180 years ago today. In this extract from his journal he starts his banking career in Oxfordshire, celebrates the end of the Crimean War and proposes to his future wife, Connie Boémé.


In July 1854 my father again heard from Mr Cuerton that there was a vacancy at the Aylesbury Old Bank, so on the 11th of that month I again went and was accepted by Mr Hunt and put upon the staff there, living at the Bank House with whom I had a nice bed room to myself and boarded with the manager, except for supper which we clerks had together in what was called our Common Room and library.

The household consisted of Mr Cuerton, the manager, Mrs Cuerton and their only child Carrie, who was about 22 or 23 when I went to Aylesbury, Mr Glasson, accountant, Samuel Barnett, George Thomas, R Bell, J Williams, Ben Clarke, Chas Taylor, T Overton Robson, and myself. Mr Herbert Astley Paston Cooper came afterwards and eventually became a Director, as he had money and was the son of Sir Astley P Cooper. Mr Porter’s name was like his occupation, “Porter”, and I saw him still at his old work when I visited Aylesbury more than 40 years afterwards in 1896.

On 8 Aug 1854 I first went to Thame where a Scotchman A Garrioch was Manager and stayed a month. We used to take it in turns to be at Thame.

The 12 Sept 54 was Mr Cuerton’s birthday when we had a dance, Louisa & Georgina Senior of Broughton House, two Miss Hattons, Terrys, Lees &c being there.

At Aylesbury the customers used to give the staff Xmas money and when Mr Hunt divided it I came in for £2!! - a very nice Xmas box for me.