I was over around Helpston yesterday, as part of an ongoing project with photographer Phil Harris. We're not trying to trace John Clare's footsteps or anything like that, just to use some of the locations associated with him to spark off ideas.
For most of the time, for example, we've become a bit fixated on roads and green lanes, but yesterday we thought we'd have a look for a piece of graffiti left by Clare on Lolham Brigs, just north of his home village of Helpston. I'd heard about it a few years ago, but had always thought it might be quite tricky to find, as the bridges are pretty extensive and in a fairly marshy area.
As it turned out, we found the inscription straight away. My photo isn't very good (Phil took some much larger scale pics of it all), but it seems to read "John Clare, Helpston, 1817". The date might not be right, but it's there with a lot of other graffiti dating from 1790 onwards, and in particular concentrated in the years up to 1830 or so.
As you'll see from this poem, Clare featured the site in his poetry more than once.