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Lottery Award for John Clare's Cottage
Thu 6 Jul 2006
The John Clare Trust has received major funding to buy and restore John Clare's Cottage in Helpston. The poet was born and lived in the house for much of his life, and it is now in line to be opened to the public (and as an education centre) for the first time.
John Clare Cottage, Helpston

John Clare is recognised as one of the great English Romantic poets, and is a named author in the National Curriculum. The lottery cash will go towards restoring the cottage using traditional building methods, fitting it out to tell the story of Clare's life and recreating a number of rooms as they would have looked in the 18th Century. The adjacent dovecote will be used as a reception area, shop and gallery space, and a small new building will be created to house modern amenities. HLF's funding will also pay for a Manager and Education Officer for a period of five years.

Born in the cottage in 1793, Clare started life as a pot boy in the Blue Bell pub next to the house and later worked as a ploughboy, a gardener at Burghley House and as a lime burner. He lived in the cottage during his period of literary success in the 1820's before leaving for nearby Northborough in 1832, and was admitted to a lunatic asylum five years later. He spent the rest of his life in asylums, and was buried in Helpston in 1864.

The restored cottage will bring the poet's past to life through a wide range of interpretation, from telling the story of 18th Century rural life and traditional folk tales to environmental seminars, literacy programmes and creative writing workshops.

Paul Chirico, Chair of the John Clare Trust, comments; 'We are delighted by this crucial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Alongside the contributions of many generous supporters, this grant will transform John Clare's cottage into a truly dynamic centre for the celebration of Clare's life and legacies. Clare's story can be an inspiration for visitors of all ages, and his passion for his environment will engage new generations with today's urgent issues.'

Barry Sheerman MP, project champion and Chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Education and Skills, adds; 'This project will safeguard the birthplace of our most important poet of nature and create a wonderful new centre for exploring our relation to the environment in Clare's time and our own.'

There is currently an exhibition of illustrations to John Clare and other work by Carry Akroyd at Shandy Hall, Coxwold, York. Open every day 11-4.30pm (except Saturday) until 25th August.

Contact Information:
Contact Name:
Paul Chirico, Chair of the John Clare Trust, 07833 737751
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