|The inscription on the tombstone reads: Here
Lies the remains of Robert Bloomfield. He was born at Honington Suffolk
December III MDCCLXVI and died at Shefford August XIX MDCCCXXIII. Let
his wild native wood notes tell the rest.
|Robert Bloomfield was born in Honington, Suffolk in 1766.
His father who was a poor tailor died of smallpox soon afterwards leaving
a large family.
His mother, a teacher at the village school, taught him to read and write
and at 11 he went to work on his uncle’s farm. He proved to be too
frail fo this, so at 15 he went to join his brothers in London to learn the
trade of shoemaker.
A fellow lodger in the garret where he lived lent him works of poetry which
inspired him to write about the Suffolk countryside.
In 1790 he married Mary Ann Church.
composed The Farmer’s Boy while making shoes, remembering the
lines in his head until he could write them down. Initially it was refused
by several publishers but was eventually published by Vernor and Hood in 1800, it included woodcuts
by Thomas Bewick. The work was extraordinarily popular selling 26,000
copies within two years, ans was translated into a number of languages.
He followed up his success with Rural Tales (1802), Good Tidings
(1804) Wild Flowers (1806) and The Banks of the Wye (1811).
In 1812 he left London and moved to Shefford where he died in 1823. He
is buried in All Saints’ Chuchyard, Campton where his tombstone remains today.
A plaque commemorating his life is in the process of being displayed in the
|The Robert Bloomfield
The Robert Bloomfield Society
is a small organisation with a modest but generally committed membership
of admirers of Bloomfield, including
academics and people with family links. Our membership comes mainly from
the UK but
we have members in the USA
and in Japan.
In the activities of the
Society, we are always drawn to Bloomfield’s
local connections including of course Suffolk
where he was raised and our local Mid Beds area where he spent his later
years and, of course, Campton where he is buried.
New members are always welcome.
Please contact Angela Underhill, Treasurer
and Membership Secretary, Robert Bloomfield Society, 71 Spenser Road Bedford
The Society’s website
New Audio CD recording of The
Farmer’s Boy now available
Stewart Orr Sound Services’ recently issued 2 CD set of a reading by
David Woodward of the complete text of The Farmer’s Boy, in authentic Suffolk
accent, is now available at a cost of £16.00 (post free if you live
within hand delivery range of Campton, Meppershall and Shefford). The
readings are introduced by Ronald Blythe, the well known Suffolk writer and
President of the Robert Bloomfield Society. This audio version of Bloomfield’s
best known work represents Suffolk speech forms that were probably current
in the late 18th century when the poem was written, and close to those the
poet would have been using when he came to live in Shefford in 1812.
If you would like a copy of the set please forward a cheque for £16
(made payable to the Robert Bloomfield Society) to Angela
Underhill, Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Robert Bloomfield Society,
71 Spenser Road Bedford MK40 2BE.
You may also be interested in this:
Stewart Orr is soon to be embarking on a recording session with
of<> short stories written in the fifties by Ray Appleton
for the opening of the VHF service to the east of England, based in Norwich.
These 11 stories are written in dialect, and will fit David's gentle brogue
wonderfully, I am sure. For more information contact:-
Prior's Croft Barn,
Service of Dedication
for Plaque Commemorating Robert Bloomfield
A church service was held at All Saints' Church, Campton on Sunday 20th July
2003 at 3.30pm to celebrate the life and work of Robert Bloomfield (1766 -
1823), who is buried in the churchyard. At the service the Bishop of Bedford,
the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, dedicated the new plaque for Bloomfield
which has been designed in Welsh slate by Ieuan Rees of the Suffolk
based Memorials by Artists.
There was an open invitation to go to the service which was also attended
by members of the Robert Bloomfield Society who held their summer event in
Shefford and Campton on that day and made a tour on foot of places identified
with Bloomfield. After the service, at which a peal was rung by young Campton
bell ringers who are students of the Robert Bloomfield School, refreshments
were served and there was a poetry reading of a selection of some of the
The text reads: Then bring me nature, bring me sense,
Joy shall be your recompense
A nationally-travelled locally-based musician who writes songs and music
in the traditional idiom about Bedfordshire history, legend and customs,
has written a dance tune which honours Robert Bloomfield in its title, 'Robert Bloomfield's Jig'.