John Clare

John Clare and the English Enclosures

The English poet John Clare was born in Helpston in 1793. When he was 16 years old the British Parliament passed an act allowing for the enclosure of lands around his village. Before enclosure, fields radiated like a wheel with his village in the centre. Clare celebrated the land he knew and loved in his remarkable poetry. After enclosure the fields were split and sectioned. Barriers of all sorts settled regular boundaries on land where once the “only bondage was the circling sky”. John Clare was the poet of the enclosures which broke his heart.

I was able to stay at Helpston and make a series of photographs following Clare’s footsteps to record today’s enclosures. The project was published by Yew Tree Press and these images are a selection from the book.