Rhyme and reason for the MP who bought country pub in the village of the Peasant Poet

 

Every year, on his birthday, the children of John Clare Primary School in the village of Helpston in Cambridgeshire, lay special midsummer cushions around the gravestone of their most famous son. But the pub over the road, where the great peasant poet was laid out before his burial, has traditionally been off limits, at least until now. Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield, and the John Clare Trust of which he is the chair, have bought the large Exeter Arms, and plan to turn it into an educational centre.

The trust already owns Clare Cottage in the village, where the poet was born in 1793, to two illiterate farm labourers, and where he spent much of his life.

"This pub will be the base for every child's right to the English countryside," Mr Sheerman said. It is currently shut, and will be so for at least two more months. Whether it functions as a pub when it reopens remains uncertain.

"We can use it only for purposes in line with our aims as an educational trust," Mr Sheerman said. The trust is about to begin an extensive consultation with the villagers over the future of the pub. "It might be that we can get something like a Jamie Oliver Fifteen style restaurant going, getting young people to learn the skills of the leisure trade."

Mr Sheerman visited the pub with his son in law, Dr Paul Chirico, this week, who is the senior tutor at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and has published a book on John Clare's poetry.

John Clare's extensive writing paints a vivid portrait of 18th-century rural life, and conveys a deep love of the English countryside. The John Clare Education and Environment Trust aims not only to acquaint young people with Mr Clare's poetry, but uses his writing to engage with the flora and fauna of the countryside. Mr Sheerman hopes that the pub which comes with a large barn and an acre of land, will offer more practical outdoor lessons "where the children can collect their bugs and plants and so on."

But Mr Clare didn't mind the occasional glass of ale, and this side of his life may still find accommodation in the spacious premises.

"We haven't bought the pub as a going concern," said Sara Blair-Manning, the CEO of the John Clare Trust. "We have just bought the building. It needs a lot of work, which we will have to raise the money for. Whether we maintain the public house role is open to debate. We wouldn't want to take away a pub from the village, we will see if the village wants to retain two pubs. It is a large building, and there may be spaces within it that could be used for drinking."

 

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Programme Manager

£30000 - £35500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum