Helpstone (excerpt)

[Clare's Monument in the centre of Helpston]
Hail humble Helpstone where thy valies spread
& thy mean Village lifts its lowly head
Unknown to grandeur & unknown to fame
No minstrel boasting to advance thy name
Unletterd spot unheard in poets song
Where bustling labour drives the hours along
Where dawning genius never met the day
Where usless ign'rance slumbers life away
Unknown nor heeded where low genius trys
Above the vulgar & the vain to rise
Whose low opinions rising thoughts subdues
Whose railing envy damps each humble view
Oh where can friendships cheering smiles abode
To guide young wanderers on a doubtful road.
Away tomorrow for the John Clare Festival in Helpston... the yearly gathering of the Society and other interested folk. This year we have many treats in store:

1.30 pm
Midsummer Cushion Ceremony and presentation of poetry prizes at St Botolphs Church in Helpston

6 pm
A Clare Guided Walk around Helpston (meet at the Butter Cross in the centre of the village)

7.30 pm
An evening of folk music at the Exeter Arms barn

10 am
Stalls open in the John Clare Primary School – with a chance to buy tickets for the evening event and the coach trip.

10.30 am
The John Clare Society AGM takes place in the marquee behind the school.

Report from the Trust on the cottage development – in the marquee

11.15 am
Ronnie Blythe’s Address – in the marquee.

12 noon until 2pm
An opportunity to browse the stalls, the exhibitions around the village, etc. There will be folk dancing around the village, and Botolphs Barn will be open. Renovation work has now started on the cottage and so that will unfortunately not be open to visitors.

Plenty of food available in the village. You can get hot and cold foot at the Blue Bell or Exeter Arms. Or step back in time for a traditional English country lunch in the village hall (laid on by the Ladies of the Church) – it could be the best village lunch you have ever had!

2 pm

John Clare, Thomas Hardy and William Barnes are among the most important poets of English rural life, and all make reference to traditional music in their works. In this talk, Dave will explore their differing musical backgrounds and their varying poetic responses to the music of their own community.

3 pm
Coach tour, departing from outside the School (ticket only) – visiting Glinton, Northborough/Maxey Mill, with on board commentary (tickets on sale in the morning)

3 pm
For those not taking the coach tour there will be guided village walks – departing from the butter cross in the centre of the village.

Traditional English teas will be available in the village hall.

5.30 pm
Poetry readings in St Botolphs Church – bring along your favourite Clare poem!

7 pm – 9 pm
The Mellstock Band – in the marquee (by ticket only)

More folk music in the Blue Bell the same evening – with Ock ‘n Dough. To get a taste of their music visit their website at

11 am
Family service in St Botolphs – focussing on Clare – led by the Revd Ron Ingamells (Society Committee member)

Langdyke Trust activities in the village – probably Botolphs Barn.

Display of Clare items in the Peterborough Museum.

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