On 21 October last year (2022) a new statue was unveiled in a little English village. The date was 250 years after the birth of the great Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the new statue was erected in the grounds of the Church in Ottery St Mary, Devon. Coleridge had been born in the village and his great-great-great-great grandson was there to unveil the new statue.
It was the culmination of a ten-year project in which a team of dedicated volunteers had done a great deal of fundraising. A book listing all the donors will be on display in the church. The project received support from Richard Holmes, Sir Andrew Motion and Hilary Mantel who commented: “He was a visionary who helped shape our national imagination, and it is right that he should have a memorial in the place that shaped him: and in the very churchyard where he told the secrets of his heart to the grass and the nettles.” This is the first memorial statue to Coleridge anywhere in the world. What’s amazing is that it has taken 250 years for this to happen.
How I’d have loved to be there at the unveiling! I have not yet seen the statue, but hope to do so before long. It looks fabulous and is the work of sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby. The statue is bronze and life-sized and depicts the poet, as if on a walk, book in hand.
Nearby is the 2012 Poetry Stones Project, where all of Kubla Khan has been engraved in kerb stones on a path through the village (it’s believed to be the longest alfresco poem in the world). I do so love having poetry become a part of the landscape in such ways.