Please rotate your device

John Clare, Poet



John Clare, the poet, was born in Helpston on 13th July 1793 and became one of our leading environmental poets. Despite having had little education he went on to write over 3500 poems. His poems are very descriptive of the wildlife, the people and the way the people lived in the rural 19th century villages. The works were created by a man who lived and worked in that environment and was able to relate to his surroundings. His first book of poems, 'Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery' was published to great acclaim in 1820, he went on to have three more books printed. He left Helpston in 1832 to go to Northborough, from where he went into High Beech mental asylum in Epping in 1837. He walked home, back to Northborough in 1841, taking 4 days. Later in 1841 he was sent to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum, now St Andrews, in Northampton. This is where he died in 1864. His body was brought back to Helpston, where he is buried in the churchyard.


An Immense Icy Flood



In February 1795 a large flood affected many parts of the country, due to a combination of thawing snow, ice and torrential rains. Peterborough's story reads like something out of a Hollywood movie: "We learn from Peterborough that the flood in that neighbourhood is so immense as to threaten several villages. The ice had formed a complete bank across the coast, from the South bank to the North bank, and consequently stopped the current of water. A gentleman there, however, at the risk of his life, contrived to dispel the ice by gunpowder, contained in oilskin bags, in the execution of which he was assisted by two barges; but he had the misfortune to be left upon a large shoal of ice; the boats being driven away, it was impossible for any person to render him assistance, and in this dangerous situation, with the momentary apprehension of the ice separating, he floated down to Whittlesea bridge, and then jumped to one of the pillars, which was expected every minute to give way. From this situation he was released by some men who put off in a boat to save him. Soon after this the South bank gave way; and so terrific was the effect, from the shrieks of the multitude near it, and the explosion so tremendous, that the noise was heard by persons stationed four miles below the spot. The number of lives lost has not been ascertained: the damage exceeds calculation."1 Other information relating to the flood suggested that 30,000 acres of Deeping Fen were flooded and that many bridges had been damaged or destroyed, including those of Wansford and Northborough which 'blew up'! Peterborough's wooden bridge was saved.
  1. Northampton Mercury, Saturday 21st February 1795, p3, column 4

Death of a Cromwell



Elizabeth Cromwell née Bourchier was born in Felsted, Essex in 1598 to a wealthy family. She is known as being the wife of Oliver Cromwell and Protectoress of England from 1653 to 1658. After her husband's death in 1658, and the restoration of the monarchy, Elizabeth was mocked and afraid for her life. She wished to escape London and had to petition Charles II to allow her to do so. Elizabeth moved to Northborough Manor to live with her daughter Elizabeth, who had married into the Claypole family. Elizabeth Cromwell died in 1665 and was buried in St Andrews Church, Northborough. The parish records state 'Elizabeth, the relict of Oliver Cromwell, sometime Protector of England, was buried November 19th 1665.' Some items from her life and more information about her can be found in her homes in Ely and Huntingdon, which are now both museums. Reference: Cooke, G.A., A Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Northampton, Sherwood Jones and Co., via [Accessed 26 May 2018]

Waldram Hall Recorded on a Map



Situated on a turn in the River Welland to the east of Peakirk and Northborough, Waldrum or Waldram Hall has long disappeared. It was once an important hall and was owned by William Cecil and the Fitwilliams. There is believed to have been a building on the site since the twelfth century. There are several references to the hall over the centuries, in parish records and poll books. It is also located on a map of 1543 which is stored in the National Archives. The hall's position on the Welland was at a good crossing point. A ferry service was provided by the hall across the river and up to Crowland too. This would have been the only crossing point in this vicinity on the Welland before the bridge was built in Deeping St. James. The route was said to have been used by pilgrims heading to Walsingham as this document from Northamptonshire Archives states: 'the ferme of Waldranhall above mencioned is an Inne somtime greatly frequented by pilgrymes passing to Walsingham.' (1) The hall was still in use in the first half of the Twentieth Century, when pictures and personal accounts exist. By this time the hall was an unprepossessing stone house, regarded as no more than a farm house. After the building of two bridges in the Deepings in the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Centuries, the ferry at Waldram Hall fell out of use and the building was no longer a decent source of income. The construction of the railway loop line to Lincoln effectively cut off the building rendering it useless.
  1. Northamptonshire Records Office F (M) Charter/2287
D. Price, River Welland, Amberley Publishing, 2012

John Claypole Marries an Angell



John Claypole was born into the Claypole or Claypoole family of Northborough and Lolham. He was the fourth child born to Adam Claypole and Dorothy Wingfield. On 8th June 1622 John married Marie/Mary Angel at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in London. The Angels held the manor of Peakirk since at least the Fifteenth Century and were said to have provided a dowry of £1500. On account of their marriage John was given the manor of Northborough and also nearby Waldram Park by his father. John trained to be a lawyer and was likely to be an early friend of Oliver Cromwell. He was MP for Northamptonshire during the protectorate; his friend Cromwell had been MP for Huntingdon. He was given a knighthood and later baronet by Cromwell, although he is rarely known as Sir John Claypole. He worked with his son John to levy taxes in Northamptonshire and later supported the marriage of John to Oliver Cromwell's favourite daughter Elizabeth. Sir John died in 1664 in London, but his wife Mary was buried in Northborough when she died in 1661. References: Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 28 November 2018), memorial page for John Claypoole (13 Apr 1593–10 Apr 1664), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13526109, citing St. Andrew's Churchyard, Northborough, Peterborough Unitary Authority, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Wayne L. Osborne (contributor 46540493) . Photo credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan -

Lolham Manor



Lolham Manor or Hall is a grade II listed building with Tudor features. Dated to the early years of the Tudor period, it contains a fireplace from the time and also wooden panelling. The manor was long associated with the Claypoles of Northborough Manor, especially Adam Claypole. He was living in Lolham Hall in 1622 when he gifted Northborough Manor to his son John Claypole. The hall is also associated with the Clitheroes/Clitherows and there is a reference to Christopher Clitheroe's Estate at Lolham in 1693 in the Fitzwilliam papers in Northamptonshire Archives. There is also a reference to a mortgage for Leonard Gale of the Manor of Lolham. Leonard Gale was father-in-law to James Clitheroe the second. Lolham Manor is a private property and cannot be viewed by the public. The supporting picture is an example of Tudor panelling only. References: London Metropolitan Archives ACC/1360