Maid of Walkherd

[Aerial Photo of Walk Farm from Google Earth]

Whilst in the Northampton Asylum, Clare handed to a member of the medical staff the following piece, which he called 'A Sonnet,' with the instruction that it should be sent to his wife Patty:

Maid of Walkherd, meet again,
By the wilding in the glen;
By the oak against the door,
Where we often met before.
By thy bosom's heaving snow,
By thy fondness none shall know;
Maid of Walkherd, meet again,
By the wilding in the glen.

By thy hand of slender make,
By thy love I'll ne'er forsake,
By thy heart I'll ne'er betray,
Let me kiss thy fears away!
I will live and love thee ever,
Leave thee and forsake thee never!
Though far in other lands to be,
Yet never far from love and thee.

Walkherd [or Walk Farm] still exists (see Google image above). It is an isolated farm, lying approximately midway between the villages of Great Casterton, Pickworth and Ryhall, well off the road. It has also been known as Walk Lodge and Walkherd Lodge. It lies about 10 miles north-east of Helpston.

It was the home of the Patty, John Clare’s wife. Martha "Patty" (born March 3rd 1799) was the daughter of Mr William Turner of Walk Lodge. The Turners had come down in the world but still considered a relationship with Clare to be beneath their daughter. However, as Patty “began to disclose dangers that which marriage alone could remedy” [i.e. she was pregnant] they were married on 16th March, 1820, with her uncle giving her away. The first of their eight children, Anna Maria, was born on 2nd June.

The old farmhouse is early 19th century, stone-built with a collyweston slate roof and is constructed in one range with a barn. The building is Grade II listed and very small; Clare refers to it as a cottage. I believe it was renovated some while ago, having been uninhabited for some years.

(RR)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Utterly beautiful

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