Trail launched to celebrate East Lincolnshire’s connections with Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman

Bluestone Heath Road in the Lincolnshire Wolds features
Bluestone Heath Road in the Lincolnshire Wolds features

A trail has been launched in East Lincolnshire as part of the Wolds Words Festival to celebrate the life and works of one of the country’s most famous poets, Sir John Betjeman.

Betjeman was born in 1906 in North London. During his life he spent time in Lincolnshire and wrote many poems about places in the area.

Betjeman was appointed Poet Laureate in 1972 and his poems about Lincolnshire were brought about by his love and appreciation of Tennyson, Lincolnshire place names, heritage, preservation and churches. It is thought that he wrote about the church at Haltham and the Georgian church of St Peter and St Paul at Langton-by-Spilsby, both of which have a three-decker pulpit.

During his childhood he would stay with friends in the market town of Louth and Spalding.

His first Lincolnshire poem ‘A Lincolnshire Tale’, where he mentions long lanes and great sunsets, reflects on his time in Kirkby-on-Bain and his second Lincolnshire poem ‘A Lincolnshire Church’ is based on St Margaret’s Church at Huttoft.

The third and final Lincolnshire poem entitled ‘House of Rest’ is apparently set in Woodhall Spa.

In his introduction in his Collins Guide to English Parish Churches first published in 1958 he recognises the county’s 90 miles of coast consisting of dunes, sandy beaches and estuaries. He also makes reference to the cathedral city of Lincoln being ancient on the hill and industrial in the valley.

He is considered instrumental in helping to save St Pancras railway station, London, from demolition and was commemorated when it became an international terminus for Eurostar in November 2007.

On the reopening of St Pancras station in 2007, a statue of Betjeman was commissioned.

Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, said: “Betjeman is one of this country’s favourite poets and it’s great we are recognising his love of Lincolnshire in this way. This demonstrates the varied heritage that Lincolnshire holds and it is hoped by bringing history like this to life then more people will want to come and explore our exciting heritage and discover just what this area has to offer”

“The Lincolnshire Branch of the Betjeman Society is delighted that East Lindsey District Council has sponsored the production of an information leaflet about John Betjeman’s links with the county. The Society exists to promote appreciation of his life and work, so it is good to have recognition of the importance of local places to his poetry, and his interest in Lincolnshire place names, landscape and churches.”

East Lindsey District Council has produced an informational leaflet alongside the launch in conjunction with the Lincolnshire Branch of the Betjeman Society which details the Lincolnshire poems and a map of Betjeman’s inspiration. This can be found at www.lovelincolnshirewolds.com