Tag Archives: John Clare

Clare talk date change

The date of John Clare expert Professor Simon Kovesi’s online chat with Langdyke has changed.

Simon (pictured, above)  was due to be the speaker on November 25  but this has now been moved to Wednesday, December 2 at 7.30pm.

The conversation is particularly appropriate as  the Trust continues to push ahead with its John Clare Countryside vision.

The peasant poet from Helpston regularly wrote about the local landscape in his poetry.  Simon will be talking about Clare, his poetry and links to nature during the conversation. 

Professor Simon Kovesi’s 2017 book John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History

His two most recent books are Palgrave Advances in John Clare Studies,  (link) published only recently, and  John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History  (link) which was published in 2017 and which he will be talking about during the online session. 
Simon is the lead of an ongoing creative project based on Clare, opera and poetry workshops across England, and a collection of work produced so far, with a final musical planned for 2021.  There are more details about the project online  here 

Simon is currently head of English and Modern Languages  at Oxford Brookes University, having previously studied and/or taught at the universities of Glasgow, Dundee, Nottingham Trent and North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA). He is vice chair of the John Clare Society. His PhD was entitled Sexuality, Agency and Intertextuality in the Later Poetry of John Clare (Nottingham Trent, 1999).

The conversation will be an online event.  You can join by clicking here or pasting this link into your browser https://zoom.us/j/92790261919?pwd=N3h2dnRoS3ltQkpiVkVVcEFxSGN3Zz09

Nature plan moves on

Richard Astle

Langdyke is spearheading a campaign to protect nature in the area we have come to know as John Clare Countryside. Here chair Richard Astle gives an update on how the plan is moving on with the creation of nature recovery plans

Lockdown has reinforced our love of nature, but it hasn’t lessened the pressures on our local wildlife.  

We are lucky to have so much and so varied wildlife in and around our villages.  But we must never forget how much nature, even here, is in steep decline. 

Nightingales have gone from Bainton Heath, lapwings nest in one or two places, not everywhere as they once did; turtle doves have done well again this year at Maxey, but have vanished from the rest of our countryside. Wild-flower meadows are few and very far between and ash trees are dying across our landscape.

This is why the John Clare Countryside project – spearheaded by the Langdyke Countryside Trust – is so important as it aims to create a nature recovery area across our area, allowing space for nature to prosper and expand across the countryside.  

If you haven’t read our vision document it is on Langdyke’s website here

And these ideas have considerable support.  

Peterborough City Council unanimously approved a motion in July to “support Natural Cambridgeshire’s aim of doubling the area of land managed for nature across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by 2050 and in particular supports the John Clare Countryside project, which aims to create, launch and deliver an ambitious and accessible nature recovery area across the landscape areas to the west of Peterborough”

We have been taking these plans forward during lockdown, including the launch by Zoom of our initiative for every parish to create its own Nature Recovery Plan.   

Already we have twelve of our local parishes signed up to the idea and starting work on their plans. 

 Working with our partners at Natural England, the Wildlife Trust and PECT, Langdyke has produced a toolkit full of advice on how to develop a nature recovery plan. The first step is to create a map of the key wildlife sites in each parish, a baseline of where nature is richest.  

From this, each parish can decide its objectives (plant more trees, restore orchards, dig ponds etc.) and then develop a recovery map setting out how and where new habitats can be created and linked up.

Once plans for each of the parishes are complete, we can then work collectively to link up all these ideas and ensure a landscape-scale approach to nature recovery across John Clare Countryside.   Any proposals in the plans must of course be discussed and agreed with landowners first and we will be working closely with the farming community to ensure that these plans fully reflect their interests and help their approach to the new agricultural subsidy regime.

Initial ideas include corridors of trees stretching between Stamford and Peterborough; or a chain of wildflower meadows linking Nene and Welland.  

The parish plans are just one part of the John Clare Countryside project – we are also bidding for substantial funding from Heritage Lottery Fund to allow us to work closely with landowners and to develop ideas for improved public access and community engagement. 

The project also includes work to link nature and mental and physical health, forging relationships with the NHS and mental health charities.

If you’d like to be involved in your parish nature recovery plan or any other aspect of the John Clare Countryside project, do let us know and we can put you in touch with the key contacts.  Please email me at chair@langdyke.org.uk

If we are to help nature recover, we need more volunteers! 

Carry is our next guest

The next online talk will take place on Wednesday, June 3 featuring Carry Akroyd – long term John Clare supporter and highly regarded painter.

She is the latest of our guests who will be answering questions and talking about nature matters as part of the Langdyke online events programme using the Zoom experience.

Carry is a painter and printmaker living in Northamptonshire. Landscape is her usual subject, and as a bird-noticer, they usually fly into the pictures.

She is also the current President of the John Clare Society.

To take part in this session, which starts at 5pm, you need to click on the link below.  You do not need to load any software on to your computer to take part.  The session will not be open until 5pm on June 3 and will last about an hour.

This is the link:


The next online session will be on Wednesday, June 17 and will feature a conversation with Josh Jones, wildlife journalist, writer for Bird Guides and a local expert.

Matthew’s our next guest

Langdyke is organising another online event – this time a conversation with the boss of one of the area’s largest nature attractions.

Matthew Bradbury

Following on from our very successful first conversation with Gardener’ s World expert Adam Frost in April, we are joined on May 20 by Matthew Bradbury, chief executive of the Nene Park Trust.

The hour-long online meeting starting at 5pm  uses Zoom.  You can join by getting a logon link – you don’t have to install any software.

He will  chat  about his love for nature, the work of the Trust and his thoughts on the John Clare Countryside project.

If you’d like to join the meeting please email Langdyke chair Richard Astle on richard@athene-communications.co.uk.

He will send you the Zoom invite.