If you look over the gate close to the edge of the field, where there is a right angle bend on Langley Bush Road, you will see a grassymound with a hawthorn bush growing on it.
This marks the junction of 4 parishes, Ufford, Upton, Ailsworth and Helpston. Originally it is thought that the mound was a pagan religious site.
For centuries it was the open-air court of the Langdyke Hundred which met twice a year to judge serious crimes, such as theft, highway robbery and murder. It was presided over by the Abbot of Peterborough and was attended by parish representatives.
Erecting the Langley Bush Stone July 2009 Financed by the Barnack Ward Community Fund
There was even a gibbet there until the early 1700s. At about the same time the court moved indoors to the Exeter Arms at Helpston.
It was a meeting point for gypsies at the time of John Clare and was one of his favourite destinations. He immortalised the old hawthorn bush which grew there in one of his poems, “O Langley Bush! The shepherd`s sacred shade”.
He wrote in his Journalin 1824 that the hawthorn had been cut down by vandals. It was probably a casualty of Enclosures which were strongly opposed by John Clare. The hawthorn which grows there now was planted by the John Clare Society in 1996.
There is a metal tablet on the wall of Peterborough Magistrates Court in Bridge Street which reminds visitors about the originalsituation of the law court, but there was nothing locally to show exactly where the old court was held until the Langley Bush Stone was erected in 2009.
For further information, Google Langley Bush. The following are recommended:
Article by Avril M Morris “A matter of life and death”