O Langley Bush! the shepherd’s sacred shade,
Thy hollow trunk oft gain’d a look from me;
Full many a journey o’er the heath I’ve made,
For such-like curious things I love to see. John Clare
The Langdyke Countryside Trust is a community organisation dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the natural and built heritage around Peterborough and Stamford. It is centred on Helpston, the home of the celebrated ‘peasant poet’ John Clare and takes its name from the Langdyke Hundred.
Up to 1700 the Langdyke Hundred [a Hundred was the area that could support 100 families or could produce 100 fighting men] used to hold its court at Langley Bush, which grew on a mound near Castor Hanglands. This point is at the junction of four parishes – Ufford, Helpston, Upton and Ailsworth. The Hundred Court, presided over by the Abbot of Peterborough, tried serious cases such as murder and there was a gibbet on the site.
John Clare wrote a poem called Langley Bush, bemoaning the felling of the tree in 1824 – possibly an act of vandalism connected with Inclosure.
“The little hill did naked lie,
The old old bush was broke and gone”
A new Langley Bush was planted some years ago and there’s a sign pointing across the field to it.