John Clare Society website

to promote a wider and deeper knowledge of the poet, John Clare

Festival 2019

Birds and Words

The John Clare Society Festival this year runs from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 July, at Helpston near Peterborough.

We start off with the midsummer cushion ceremony at the church on Friday afternoon, and in the Friday evening there is the ever popular folk night at the Blue Bell. For more detail of the folk night please visit the website.

We are seeking to build on the success of past festivals but are widening the range of activities over the weekend. As well as sessions for those with an existing knowledge and love of Clare’s life and work, we are also running a ‘Beginner’s Guide to John Clare’ presentation on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, Dr Mina Gorji (our designated keynote speaker this year) has had to pull out. However, we are looking forward to an excellent talk by Richard Astle of the Langdyke Trust.

In the evening, the very popular folk group Pennyless will entertain us.

The following are available to purchase:

  • Festival Programme (£2 each)
  • Pennyless Concert Tickets (£6 each)
  • Portrait – A Beginner’s Guide to John Clare (£5 each)

These are available from Sue Holgate, 9 The Chase, Ely, Cambs CB6 3DR – cheques made payable to The John Clare Society. Or they can be bought at Festival.

For information about our Friends of the Festival scheme, click on the tab at the top of this page.

If you wish any further details, please contact Sue Holgate at

A Walk with John Clare on Sunday 14th July

As part of the Festival, there will be a five-mile circular walk around Helpston and local woods and scenery, led by Carry Akroyd of the John Clare Society and David Cowcill of the Langdyke Countryside Trust (in collaboration with the John Clare Cottage), starting at 1pm.

We have been delighted with the interest we’ve received, and the walk is now fully booked. Those who have been in touch have had their bookings confirmed by Simon Bysshe. Any queries, please contact