Statue tribute to famed Northamptonshire poet John Clare to be installed at the Guildhall

A statue of the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet, John Clare, will be put in place at the Guildhall courtyard in Northampton.

Monday, 25th April 2016, 10:24 am
Updated Monday, 25th April 2016, 11:29 am
Library picture

John Clare was born in Helpston and started writing poetry inspired by the Northamptonshire countryside and rural life.

Sculptor Richard Austin was commissioned to celebrate John Clare’s life and creativity in Northampton with a figure for display in the town centre based on the well-known watercolour portrait of the poet sitting in the portico of All Saints Church. The statue will be installed on Wednesday April 27.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “We are thrilled to have a statue of John Clare within the courtyard of the Guildhall, marking this internationally famous poet and his links with our town.

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“I have been familiar with the work of the sculptor Richard Austin and know of his reputation for creating life size accessible figures in cold cast bronze and I believe this particular work of John Clare will prove a real draw for visitors to Northampton. Its location within the courtyard of the Guildhall also links into the Heritage Trail of notable buildings within the town.”

From the mid-1830s, John Clare’s mental health deteriorated and he admitted himself to an asylum in Epping Forest. He walked back home where he was subsequently committed, by his family, to Northampton General lunatic asylum (now St Andrew’s Hospital) in 1841. He remained there until his death in 1864.

Since he was a low risk patient he was allowed to take daily walks around Northampton town centre and spent much of his time sitting and writing in the portico of All Saints church. Since the mid-20th Century, his works have been recognised in comparison to Wordsworth and the romantics.

A John Clare society was founded in 1981 and his early home in Helpston was acquired by a trust in 2005 and restored for visitors.