John Clare - the Helpston poet - appears to have had little direct involvement with Peterborough, apart from a brief time with the militia at Norman Cross. However, he did make passage through Peterborough on this day. In 1837, he had been admitted to the High Beach Asylum in Epping Forest. On Tuesday 20 July, he left of his own free will to walk the 80 miles home to Northborough. On this morning he left his 'overnight stop' in Stilton and, after seeking directions, headed toward Peterborough. Before he reached Peterborough, a man and woman passed him in a cart. They hailed him as they passed and John recognised them as people from Helpston. He told them his story and received 5d in return, although they did not offer him a lift home. John called 'at a small public house near a bridge' and had 'two half-pints of ale and twopenn'oth of bread and cheese'. Feeling quite refreshed but with feet more crippled than ever, he forced himself to keep on the move as he was 'half ashamed to sit down in the street' and 'got through Peterborough better than I expected'. He 'passed Walton and soon reached Werrington'. There he was met by his wife Patty and taken home to their house in Northborough. (Robinson, Eric and Powell, David (eds), John Clare by Himself, Fyfield Books, 2002)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.