John Clare Society website

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

John Clare Society Festival 2023

Friday 14 – Sunday 16 July 2023

The annual John Clare Society Festival will take place as usual this year in Helpston, near Peterborough (the birthplace of John Clare) with the Midsummer Cushions Ceremony at the church on Friday 14 July in the afternoon, and the main Festival and AGM on Saturday 15 July. There will be a church service on Sunday 16 July.  The theme for the Festival will be John Clare and the Spirit of Place.   Each year the children from the John Clare Primary School take part in a poetry competition on our theme and it will be interesting to see what they make of this topic! 

We are in the early stages of arrangements for the Festival and as yet have not confirmed a keynote speaker or musicians for our concert.  There will however still be the usual stalls, open gardens, refreshments in the Village Hall and Bluebell, and folk dancing, village walks with poetry reading in the church

The Festival will be open from 10:00 a.m. on the Saturday with the AGM starting at 10.15 a.m. in the church.  As those of you who have been before will remember, we have a Friends of the Festival Scheme. This is a way of offering your support for the Festival whilst ensuring you have a programme beforehand and enable you to pre-book your tickets and reserve a seat for the concert.  You will also be sent a lovely poetry pack.

The Festival 2023 will be a happy and full celebration of our poet – please make a note of the date.  Full details will be in our next Newsletter – we hope to see you there!

Ann Marshall – Festival Co-ordinator.

Peter Newcombe Exhibition

An exhibition in the Inspiration Gallery at Abington Park Museum

10 November 2022 – 12 March 2023

In 1967 Newcombe first read John Clare’s Shepherd’s Calendar, originally published in 1827. Inspired by what he read, Newcombe spent the next year illustrating the calendar. Each drawing was created in the specific month, so it would truthfully reflect the month’s natural landscape. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see all 12 works in the collection.

For more details click here.

Centre for John Clare Studies Meetings 2022-23

The forthcoming meetings are as follows:

Tues 25th Oct 2022: Erin Lafford
Tuesday 15th Nov 2022: Markus Poetzsch
Tuesday 31 Jan 2023: Stephanie Kuduk Weiner
Tuesday 28 Feb 2023: Tim Fulford

Sign-up details will be sent out nearer the time for each meeting; details of some other events and meetings for the coming academic year will follow, slightly later in the year.

To get joining details please contact Sarah Houghton-Walker

Next Meeting – 25 October 2022.

Erin Lafford will be talking about ‘Clare’s health’ on Tuesday 25th October, 1-2pm BST, at the next meeting of discussion group of the Centre for John Clare Studies. All are very welcome. If you would like to join us online, please register in advance here:

BBC radio programmes on Clare which you can catch online

All sorts of stuff on John Clare online, as listed below (click on the links):

BBC World Service (1991) ‘Omnibus: John Clare’

Ted Hughes reads John Clare ‘Nightingale’s Nest’, Westminster Abbey (1993)

BBC Radio 4 Programme (2004) ‘Open Country’

BBC Radio 4 Programme (2008) ‘John Clare The Lament of Swordy Well’

BBC Radio 4 Programme (2018) ‘In Our Time: John Clare’

BBC Radio 4 (2015) ‘Great Lives: John Clare’

Happy listening!