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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

Our Former Gardeners - Edward Joyce

Edward and his wife Mary gardened Plot 3 on the east side of Waterfurlong for many decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They gave over part of their plot to a tennis court, and during the 1880s the Sandall children next door enjoyed watching the Joyces' matches from the eyrie of their tree house.

Born into poverty in nearby Barnack, Edward was the epitome of the Victorian self-made man, rising to the prominent position of general manager of the Stamford Mercury, where he worked for nearly 60 years.

The old Stamford Mercury shop and offices at 62 High Street

Edward and Mary started off their married life in a house close to the junction of Tinwell Road and Waterfurlong, and by 1889 Edward was in the position to buy Walsoken House in St Peter's Street, where the four Joyce children - Muriel, Clifford, Evelyn and Cyril grew up.

Walsoken House, 2 St Peter's Street

The family were staunch Congregationalists. Edward ran the Star Lane chapel Sunday school and was involved in the building of Stamford's now lost Albert Hall. He was invited to become president of the Stamford Institution - a stone's throw from his front door - but turned it down following allegations of gambling being permitted on the premises! But I suspect he was less staid than his biography suggests - Edward was musical and sporty and had a distinct twinkle in his eye in surviving photographs. He was also canny enough to wed into money and enjoyed a long and apparently very happy marriage.

The Albert Hall, situated where Tesco's car park now stands.

Edward and Mary had three war heroes among their children and grandchildren, but sadly only one of their descendants - Norah Butler Joyce, a registered nurse and midwife - remained in Stamford.

Readers with Tidd and Hensman ancestors might also be interested in Edward's biography.

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