My inspiration for writing this stems from something I saw on Facebook a few weeks ago and of which I was completely unaware up to that point, somebody had posted a picture of All Saints Church and included a picture of one of the alcoves together with some information about John Clare.
John Clare was a poet born in 1793 who grew up in Helpston, Northamptonshire, educated up till the age of 11 after which he was pretty much self taught, he had a great love of the rural environment with which he was surrounded. In his lifetime he was to witness huge change in the countryside he loved both to the people who worked the land and to the land itself, with the move away from agriculture to factory based work for the populace which caused great hardship and misery for many. The destruction and misery he witnessed was a cause of great sadness for Clare and he suffered depression which lead to him spending time in an asylum, we can only imagine what hell a place that that would have been in those unenlightened times.
Clare ended his life in Northampton again spending time in an asylum but to get back to where I started he supposedly wandered around the town sometimes sitting in one of the the alcoves of All Saints Church pictured below.
You can see a reference to the great fire of 1675 in the picture above right, All Saints had to be rebuilt after the fire and here an interesting fact emerges.
Northampton during the civil war was a Parliamentarian town so much so that King Charles 11 on taking the throne had Northampton Castle raised to the ground, however the Earl of Northampton who was a friend of the King persuaded him to donate no less than 1,000 tons of timber from the royal forests to aid the rebuilding of the church, no mean feat considering the emnity that had existed between the warring parties.
This fact is recorded in lettering just above the supporting columns and underneath a stone statue of Charles, but which is not really visible in my pictures, in fact it reads -
"This statue was erected in memory of King Charles 11 who gave a thousand tun of timber towards the rebuilding of this church and to this town seven years chimney money collected in it"
Autumn by John Clare
The thistledown's flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,
The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;
Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.
The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,
The greensward all wracked is, bents dried up and dead.
The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,
And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.
Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,
And the rivers we're eying burn to gold as they run;
Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;
Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.