News and Events

The John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People 2013

See the website for full details.

A musical setting of Christmas

The Phoenix Singers, a community choir based in Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands, have recorded a verion of "Christmas", with music by their Musical Director, Ashley Thompson. It is included on their Christmas CD, which can be obtained via their website

Les Plus Beaux Poemes de John Betjeman

For those who might be interested in reading John Betjeman's poetry in French, a new book has been published containing both English and French versions of fifty one of his poems. The book also contains notes on the poems in French. Les Plus Beaux Poemes de John Betjeman is available from

Four New DVDs released

Four new DVDs were released at the start of November 2011, containing several of John Betjeman's BBC films which were previously unavailable. They include A Bird's Eye View (three films), Thank God it's Sunday (two films), Summoned By Bells, Victorian Architects and Architecture (four films), and a re-release of A Passion for Churches.

All four are available now by following the links above, or from the Shop page of the website

John Betjeman Poetry Competition - the winner is...

Jennifer Burville-Riley is this year's winner of the John Betjeman Poetry Competition. For more details, photos, and to read the winning entries, visit the competition website

New Betjeman Society website

The Betjeman Society now has its own website - Full details of all Branches and Events can be found there.

John Betjeman and Cornwall

A new book, written by Philip Peyton and published by the University of Exeter Press, provides a lively new account of the life of Sir John Betjeman, offering new insights into his work and his defining lifelong relationship with Cornwall.

The new research in this book includes a wealth of previously ignored source material, and a lively new account of Betjeman’s life and work and his defining relationship with Cornwall.

Published on Nov 1st 2010, it is available now via the Shop page

Betjeman and the Anglican Imagination

Betjeman and the Anglican ImaginationA new book by Kevin J Gardner, due for publication in September 2010, leads readers through the rollicking and humorous world of Betjeman’s writings to gain a clear, grand picture of the turbulent faith behind one of Britain’s most popular poets.

It can be ordered now via our Shop page

"Unwrecked England" by Candida Lycett-Green

John Betjeman's daughter, Candida Lycett-Green, has been a regular contributor to The Oldie since its launch in 1992, revealing hidden gems of England in her Unwrecked England column.

Now her favourite 100 places have been compiled in this illustrated volume.

Described by Country Life as ‘the finest writer of our time on the English countryside’, Candida’s passion for England is unabated. Her selection covers a broad range and includes towns, villages, churches, valleys, woods, hills, houses, gardens and more. A few places are well known such as Ely Cathedral and White Horse Hill but most are less obvious - Bredwardine in Herefordshire or Wooler in Northumberland. The setting of each place is described in stunning detail.
The book is beautifully illustrated with colour photographs, including a great many by Christopher Simon Sykes.

Published on Oct 1st, it can be ordered here.

"Betjeman's West Country" DVD - out now

This new DVD contains all of the Betjeman's West Country series, made for his centenary year, and initially shown on ITV WestCountry, over two hours in all.

Presented by John Nettles, it uses as its main source the West Country towns films made by Sir John in the early 1960s, with additional material featuring John Nettles himself, and numerous interviews with those associated with him over the years. It puts the clips from the films into context in his life - his childhood holidays in Cornwall, his interest in churches and architecture, and his return to Cornwall in old age - turning the whole DVD into a combination of entertaining highlights and biography.

The interviewees include his daughter Candida Lycett-Green, his TV director Jonathan Stedall, biographer Bevis Hillier, and many others.

Unlike several other DVDs which have appeared in recent years, this one does actually feature John Betjeman, and can be bought with confidence!

It can be ordered now via the Betjeman Shop

The Betjeman Society Scrapbook 1988-2008

The Betjeman Society Scrapbook was published in April, and is an entertaining record of the Society's activities over the last twenty years.

The history of the Society, the people behind it, their memorable events, and the branches around the country are all recalled, with photographs and illustrations on almost all of the 100 pages. Add to this a brief synopsis of Sir John's life and bibliography, and it is an excellent record of the Society and its activities.

Priced at £12 including P&P, it is available from Philippa Davies, Haleswood, 2 The Crescent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7AG


"Betjeman's England" - out now

"Betjeman's England", a new prose anthology of Betjeman's writings, is due for publication by John Murray in May 2009.

"Betjeman's England" is a gazetteer of England, spanning the country's highlights from Humberside to Kent and from Manchester to Cornwall, and is based on Betjeman's best television programmes filmed over a 20-year period.

The book contains the commentaries for all 26 of his Shell advertisements in 1955-56, as well as the 12 films he made with Jonathan Stedall for TWW in the early 1960s, his five best films for Eddie Mirzoeff at the BBC, and two films he made about London with Ken Russell. In all, the book includes 60 programmes, including two poignant films about railway journeys and four about the great country houses of Derbyshire, as well as three places just off the English map - in Wales, the Isle of Man and Jersey. It also contains the poem that Betjeman wrote on his first, nervous return visit to his hated school in Marlborough, and suggestions for films about Canterbury and Winchester cathedrals.

"Betjeman's England" follows on from "Trains and Buttered Toast" and "Sweet Songs of Zion", both of which were collections of Betjeman's radio talks, and "Tennis Whites and Teacakes", whch was a collection of his occasional writings and journalism. As with the three earlier books, "Betjeman's England" contains an introduction - explaining how Betjeman became a film maker - by the series editor, Stephen Games.

"Betjeman's England" can be ordered now via the Betjeman Shop

"First and Last Loves" reprinted

"First and Last Loves", a collection of essays on architecture, is available once again, as part of Faber's print-on-demand imprint. It can be ordered via the Betjeman Shop

Summoned By Bells on CD

The BBC have released Sir John's own recording of Summoned By Bells, his verse autobiography, on CD. The 2 CD set is available now from the Betjeman Shop

Poems In The Porch - expanded edition

The original edition of Poems in The Porch, a slim volume containing six poems written for the radio series "Faith In The West", was published in the 1950s. What many people do not know is that Sir John Betjeman read more than twenty such poems for this series. Kevin Gardner has now collected 26 poems, many never published before, and written an introductory essay. Published on September 18th 2008, and available to pre-order now from the Betjeman Shop

New BBC poetry CD collection

The BBC have released a new 2-CD collection of John Betjeman reading his own poetry. The recordings, taken from the BBC archives include "A Subaltern's Lovesong"; "Diary of a Church Mouse"; "In a Bath Teashop"; "Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden"; "Youth and Age on Beaulieu River"; "Trebetherick"; "Myfanwy at Oxford"; "Back from Australia"; and, "Death at Leamington". Available now from the Betjeman Shop

"Ghastly Good Taste" re-issued

John Betjeman's guide to English architecture, Ghastly Good Taste, will be re-issued in June, in the Faber Finds series. It will be available to order through all major booksellers, and will cost around £9.

"Miss J Hunter Dunn" dies, aged 92

Joan Jackson, the inspiration for "A Subaltern's Love Song", has died. Full story here.

New CD from Lance Pierson

Lance Pierson has released a CD of some of John Betjeman's less well known poems, "The John Betjamen you never knew". More details here

Betjeman statue at St.Pancras

A statue of John Betjeman was unveiled at St.Pancras station on November 14th 2007. He was instrumental in the fight to save the station from demolition in the sixties, and the new statue, by Martin Jennings, looks up at a replica of the original Victorian clock. Read more here.

Young People's Poetry Competition - 2007 Winners

The winning entries in the 2007 John Betjeman Young People's Poetry Competition were announced at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature on October 7th. You can read them here.

"Sweet Songs of Zion" - out now

Sweet Songs of ZionEdited by Stephen Games, this collection of previously unpublished BBC Radio talks on hymns and hymn writers, is available now. John Betjeman gave these talks towards the end of his life, and were Betjeman's swan song as a broadcaster. 'Hymns are the poems of the people', Betjeman observed in his first talk, and went on to show how variously this insight has been borne out over generations.

Order now from the Betjeman Shop.

"Tennis Whites and Teacakes" - out now

Tennis Whites and TeacakesFollowing on from the success of "Trains and Buttered Toast", Stephen Games new collection of Betjeman prose, poetry and letters has been published.

"Tennis Whites and Teacakes" looks at Betjeman's views on English culture - its places, its writings, its heroes, seaside architecture, national poets, the great cathedrals, our ancient townscapes.

Available now from the Betjeman Shop.

Centenary Events
A review of the major Centenary events can be found here.