Thomas Burkitt was born in January 1892 in Calcethorpe, a small hamlet 5 miles outside of Louth, Lincolnshire to Thomas Burkitt senior, a Farm Labourer. Young Thomas didn’t appear to want to work in the fields as his father had done and by the time of the 1911 census at the age of 19, he was working at Petwood as a Gardener alongside his brother Harry aged 25. The brothers would have been working at Petwood not long after completion of the main house and working under the famous Landscape Gardener Harold Peto who designed the gardens and Petwood Head Gardener at the time Marshall Butler.
Like many other young men, Thomas was called to serve in WWI and on 5th October 1914 aged 22 he was enlisted into the 5th Lincolnshire Regiment. He served one posting to France suffering terribly in the conditions in the trenches. His records show that he was treated a number of times for Impetigo (a skin condition) and ‘septic toes’, otherwise known as trench foot before coming back home at the end of 1916 for training as a signaller. He was sent for his final posting to France in 1918 where he was wounded in action and finally granted leave and returned home.
After the war, he returned to his job as a Gardener though not at Petwood. He married and had a family and stayed a proud Lincolnshire ‘yellowbelly’ all of his life passing away in 1967. We are very lucky one of his children kindly donated four of his photographs of the Petwood gardens to us taken during his time there.