Peterborough & South Lincs Folk Diary

The John Clare Festival takes place Fri 15th, Sat 16th & Sun 17th July 2016

and is organised by the John Clare Society - click HERE for their website

Fri 15th July 2016

1.00pm - Midsummer Cushion laid on John Clare's grave with poems by the schoolchildren

7.30pm - John Clare's Birthday Music (& occasional Song) Session - in the front bar of the Bluebell, Woodgate, Helpston, PE6 7ED. This will feature fiddles, etc playing sort the tunes John Clare would have played in the same room, with songs. All welcome, to listen or join in. More details 01777 766923 or 01733 252067.


Saturday 16th July 2016:

from 9.30am - tea & coffee in Botolph's Barn, opposite the Church, with stalls, including book stalls.

from 9.30am - tea & coffee in  the Blue Bell pub

from 10am - tea & coffee in the John Clare Cottage cafe

FREE PARKING ALL DAY BEHIND THE EXETER ARMS AND IN THE FIELD OPPOSITE THE SCHOOL, please look for the parking signage. No parking at Helpston School as it is having its annual fete today, to which you are invited.

We would like to keep Helpston's roads as clear as possible

10.15am - John Clare Society AGM, in St Botolph's Church, PE6 7DT, with Presidential Address by Carrie Akroyd

Lunch time: Lunches available in the Village Hall and in the John Clare Cottage Cafe, and in the Blue Bell pub.

Dance displays around the village by the gentlemen of the Peterborough Morris, and the ladies & gentlemen of the Peterborough Folk Dance Club

The John Clare Cottage will be open Friday through to Monday, with a photographic exhibition in the Dovecote.

Open most of the day - An exhibition in Botolph's Barn. The Annakinn Gallery will be open. After the AGM, the John Clare Society's sales stall of interesting items will be open in front of 1a West Street.

In the afternoon, the annual lecture will be given by Margi Blunden, daughter of Edmund Blunden, the First World War poet who did so much to keep Clare's reputation alive. Her talk will be based on how her father came to 'unearth' Clare in the early part of the twentieth century.

After the lecture, you might like to meet up with friends in the Village Hall or Cafe for afternoon tea, or visit the three oak trees at Swaddywell, planted by the John Clare Society to commemmorate John Clare, Ronald Blythe & Edmund Blunden. A small commemorative booklet will be on sale with a direction map to Swaddywell, a place that John Clare loved. 

Poetry reading session, lead by Peter Cox, so bring your favourite Clare poem along and make contact with him during the day to recite it, and to listen to others

The eraly evening concert this year will be given by the Big Fiddle Band of Northampton,  with music related to John Clare. It will last for 1 hour, in the Church, PE6 7DT. Tickets from the stall in front of The Stables, 1a West Street, or pay at the door - starts at 6pm.

Sunday 17th July 2016:

10.45am - Service in celebration of John Clare, in the Church, with Canon Haydn Smart. The Festival will finish with a glass of wine and a toast to John Clare on this, his birthday weekend.


Toilets are located in the Botolph’s Barn, the Village Hall, and the Blue Bell pub.


 See the website for John Clare Cottage and Trust - click here