John Betjeman

John Betjeman CBE

Sir John Betjeman, who became Poet Laureate in 1972, was a very high profile figure and was well known through his appearances on television and for his love of traditional architecture and churches.

He was born in London in 1906. Betjeman’s interest in churches and architecture was kindled at the Dragon School, Oxford, but he had been interested in poetry from an early age. At Magdalen College, he was part of the ‘literary set’ and after Oxford he was determined not to join his father’s business but to carve out a literary career instead.

Betjeman and his wife Penelope rented Garrards Farm in Uffington in 1934. They soon became immersed in village life and also entertained many famous friends here. Their son Paul was born in Uffington in 1937. Their daughter, Candida, was born in 1942 while they were in Ireland.
The family moved to Farnborough in 1945, then to Wantage in 1951. Sir John Betjeman died at Trebetherick in Cornwall on 19th May 1984.

Later in her life Candida and her husband again lived in Uffington. She was a great supporter of the Museum and donated copies of a large amount of Betjeman’s correspondence to us.