Peterborough & South Lincs Folk Diary






JohnClare 80x80

The John Clare Society Festival takes place on

Fri 14th, Sat 15th & Sun 16th July 2023

2019 details are below (the shortcut to this web page is )

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

Fri 12th July 2019:

1.30pm - Midsummer Cushions' Ceremony at John Clare's grave with poems by the schoolchildren, followed by a short service and prizegiving in the church

6.30pm - 'A Pint of Poetry' - in the Bluebell, Woodgate, Helpston, PE6 7ED

8.30pm - John Clare's Birthday Music (& 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 about 200 years ago, with songs. All welcome, to listen or join in. Session run by Mike Stevens and Mark Swingler of Peterborough Morris. More detailsfrom Mike Stevens 01775 766923 or 


Saturday 13th July 2019:

Please buy either a Festival Programme (£2) or, better still, join the Friends of the Festival Scheme (see the Box below) which gets you a 24-page programme containing interesting Clare-related articles and poems, and a poetry pack, and prioritised booking. Go to the Welcome Tent on the Village Green, where you can also buy Concert tickets, also available at The Bluebell, John Clare Cottage and the Anakin Gallery.

The membership stall, for new joiners and renewals, will be in the Church.

Botolph’s Barn and the Scout Hut will be open at 9.00 am with various stalls to include book stalls. Teas and coffees are available at The Bluebell pub from 9.30 am, and in the John Clare Cottage from 10am. 

Car parking is just down the road from the Scout Hut - 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 Carry Akroyd

Lunch time: lunches available in the Village Hall and in the John Clare Cottage Cafe, and in the Bluebell pub.

The Beauvale Ensemble recorder group are again playing for us from 12.30pm in the Cottage.

There will be dance displays around the village by the gentlemen of the Peterborough Morris,

and the ladies & gentlemen of the Peterborough Folk Dance Club around lunchtime.

The John Clare Cottage will be open Friday through to Monday.

The Annakinn Gallery will be open as usual, and two local artists will be displaying their work in the village.

At 2pm, the Annual Lecture will be given in the Church by Richard Astle, of the Langdyke Trust.

There will be many activities in the village during the afternoon, including our regular poetry reading at 4pm in the Church. If you want to read out your favourite poem, please bring it with you and contact any member of the Committee on the day. 

 The early evening concert this year, 6pm to 8pm, will be given by the "Pennyless" very talented folk group, in St Botolph's Church, Helpston, PE6 7DT. Tickets are just £6 and available from Sue Holgate  Ann Marshall 01400 282409 / 07815 640033 or from the Welcome Tent on the village green on the day, and on the door.

Sunday 14th July 2019: 

At 10.45am - a Clare-related Service in the Church vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

10am to 12 noon, John Stafford will be giving an illustrated talk entitled 'A Portrait - A Beginner's Guide to John Clare' in the Scout Hut, cost £5 including coffee. This is aimed at those who would like to know a little more about John Clare and his life. Tickets are available at the Welcome Tent and at other events over the weekend, or on the door.

At 1.00pm, there will be "A Walk with John Clare" from John Clare Cottage, with members of the John Clare Society and The Langdyke Countryside Trust. A five-mile circular walk around Helpston and local woods and scenery, lead by Carrie Akroyd (John Clare Society) and David Cowcill (Langdyke Countryside Trust). The programme includes - an introduction to John Clare's life and works, with readings appropriate to the places visited, and commentary on the countryside he loved - a cream tea at the John Clare Cottage - a tour of the John Clare Cottage and gardens. The cost is £9 per person. Places are limited on a first come, first served basis. To find out more and book a place, please contact or 01733 253164


                                                                                                                                                            FRIENDS OF THE JOHN CLARE SOCIETY FESTIVAL SCHEME

The Society does not make an admission charge for the Festival; instead they run the Friends of the John Clare Society Festival as a way of allowing lovers of Clare to help defray some of the necessary Festival expenses. This year, people joining as Friends will get a 24-page programme containing interesting Clare-related articles and poems, and a poetry pack. Those who also buy tickets for the Concert (by the always popular band, Pennyless) will get priority booking for the Concert and reserved seats. All of this, and help the Society continue to run a lovely Festival, for just £10 per person. For more details, including concert tickets, and joining the John Clare Society (if you are not already a member), please contact Sue Holgate the Festival Co-ordinator 01353 668438  E-mail:  


Toilets are located in the Botolph’s Barn, the Village Hall, and The Bluebell pub.

VISITORS TO HELPSTON If you would like to come to the Festival for more than one day, or if you are travelling a long distance to visit Helpston at any time, you will find the Stamford Tourist Information Centre a helpful, but sometimes overlooked, source of hotel and bed-and-breakfast listings. In particular, this website is very useful: 


John Clare Cottage - open extra days during the Festival