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Friday, 12 October 2012

Growing pains - the case of the foul-mouthed gardener

Published in the New Law Journal, vol 162, 12 October 2012, p 1294

Tolethorpe Hall in Little Casterton, Rutland, is a fine example of an English country house and grounds. The gentle Gwash river meanders past the house, with the picturesque Gwash valley behind. It is hard to think of a more classically English rural scene.

Despite the tranquil setting, the estate has seen its share of human drama over the years. It was for a time the seat of the Browne family, one of whom (Robert, c. 1550-c. 1633) led the “Brownists”, who campaigned for a congregational form of organisation for the Church of England before being run out of the country. In the early 1970s, a few centuries after Browne, and nearly a millennium after the first record of a house on the site, the estate found its way into the law reports by way of a landmark employment dispute.

At the time the estate was owned by one Mr Racher. The head gardener was a Mr Wilson (no relation). The two failed to get on from the start, and the disgruntled Racher went looking for a way to rid himself of Wilson.

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