It has always been my intention to pay my respects and visit the last resting place of Robert Bloomfield in Campton Bedfordshire having visited the place of his birth and youth, Honington and Sapiston in Suffolk back in the summer of 2013.
We almost made it a reality some months ago when passing through Shefford, Robert’s last place of residence, but my geography let me down and I was too lazy to re-program the Satellite Navigation.
This time I was determined not to make the same mistake as dear old John Clare regretting forever a missed opportunity, not that I had anything like his excuse.
Therefore we set off one bright Sunday morning in April 2014,with a meticulously planned route down to the last hundred yards we soon found ourselves outside All Saints Church in Campton as the last of the congregation were tumbling out of the Palm Sunday Service.
All Saints Church and graveyard Campton was the burial ground for the village of Shefford until the present century as Shefford only had a chapel at ease. Today Campton and Shefford are divided today by the busy A507 road .
All Saints Church, Campton, Bedfordshire.
Memorial Plate to Robert Bloomfield in All Saints Church
Robert Bloomfield last resting place sitting to the north west of the church.
Robert is buried next to Thomas Inskip of Shefford
who was friends of both Robert Bloomfield and John Clare.
John Clare on Robert Bloomfield:
“He is the most original poet of the age and the greatest Pastoral Poet England ever gave birth to” John Clare.
One of The Stained Glass Windows in this historic church it is to the memory of one of the Osborn family who’s memorials adorn the church.
I do not know what I expected but it was not what we found. I was disappointed to find that Elstow the birth place of John Bunyan had been swallowed up by a sprawling Bedford and surrounded by its busy road networks and bypass leading you on to the M1 motorway and Milton Keynes.
The Abbey Church of St Helena and St Mary is all that is left of a larger monastic church begun in 1078 it is situated just of the Village green where John played in his youth, he was christened here in 1628 and his parents and sister are buried in the graveyard.
As photo opportunities go it was a little disappointing, The Moot House on the village green which houses a museum on 17th century life did have a certain charm but I found it almost to pristine and clinical. The only redeeming feature was the village sign.
Perhaps this is all a little harsh but it was not helped by the fact that both the village school and the Swan public house had seen better days and we’re boarded up. There was a plaque on the high street marking the spot were John Buynan once lived on his return from the civil war but even this lacked any romance and very little inspiration.
Therefore it has to be concluded that it is the man, his teachings and his writings that are the enduring factor and leave the more lasting impression.