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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 ... 1876


Victorian Waterfurlong gardener Edward Winterton grew up in one of Stamford's notorious slum courts - Protection Yard off Scotgate. He somehow managed to secure an apprenticeship as a carver and gilder, (probably with the Hare family whose shop was in St Mary's Street) and spent much of his life working in Scarborough, where there was a high demand for gilding on the resort's elaborate promenade and concert halls. Edward's second cousin, Thomas Winterton, and Thomas's wife Annie ran the Star and Garter pub next to Protection Yard's entrance. In May 1876 The Mercury entertained readers with the story of fiesty Annie's stand-up fight with a customer.

'Mrs Winterton, landlady of the Star and Garter public-house, Scotgate, and Mrs Rudkin, wife of a labourer, summoned each other for an assault on the 9th inst. Mrs Rudkin said she was walking down Scotgate, when Mrs Winterton ran after her, and asked when she was going to pay her what she owed. Witness replied, "When you send in the correct bill." Mrs Winterton said, "If you don't pay me, I'll pay you," and then struck her, knocked her down, and kicked her whilst she was on the ground. Two policemen pulled her off, and prevented her striking witness again. She (Mrs Rudkin) declared that she did not call Mrs Winterton either a whore or a bunter, or tell her she kept a fancy man: she did not say anything to provoke her, neither did she strike her.

A little girl named Ann Thrift corroborated Mrs Rudkin's statement; but on being questioned by Mrs Winterton, she admitted that Mrs Rudkin did say the former kept a fancy man. Mrs Winterton said when she asked Mrs Rudkin if she was going to pay what she owed her, the latter called her a bunter and whore, and said she kept a fancy man. She thereupon struck her and they fought. She knocked Mrs Rudkin down; she picked her up and put her fair on her legs, and then knocked her down again; and when she was in the gutter she slapped her face. She did not think she had done anything unfair: it was a fair stand-up fight. She (witness) said she had a witness who would corroborate what she said, but unfortunately she was ill in bed. The Magistrates adjourned the case to allow Mrs Winterton to produce her witness.'(1)

Protection Yard, the Star and Garter and the town's old fire station (seen in the photo to the right of the pub) were demolished in 1967 to create the Scotgate car park. Read more about Edward Winterton on our website.


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

© Karen Meadows 2019

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