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Report on the Coleridge Weekend [posted 26th November here]

The celebration of STC’s birthday and Coleridge Memorial Statue fundraising launch at St Mary’s Church, Ottery St Mary, was a wonderful success. With the great support of helpers, superb speakers and an appreciative audience, it could not, in this writer’s opinion, have gone any better.

Warmly compered by Javeria Coleridge and anchored throughout by Chair of the Coleridge Memorial Trust, John Pilsworth, the evening’s programme was filled with thoughtfulness for, deep knowledge about and an affinity with the life and work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Having sustained an injury earlier that day, our quest speaker Dr Sandra Tuppen from The British Library was unable to attend.

Replacing her opening talk, and at short notice [from the afternoon event of the day!], Ian Enters, Trustee of the Friends of Coleridge, gave an eloquent, informed and wholly engaging talk ‘Working on Coleridge in Calne’. Speaking to a theme of ‘beginnings and ends’, Ian was immediately empathetic to this Ottery St Mary celebration of the town’s famous son, and he gave an insightful appreciation of STC’s ‘The Lime-tree Bower my Prison’ among other absorbing observations.

Nicholas Dimbleby, memorial statue sculptor, spoke entertainingly and instructively about the process of preparing for and beginning to work on a memorial statue. His appreciation of the placing of the statue at St Mary’s Church as well as a personal engagement with STC’s poetry conveyed a deep affinity for the poet honoured to complement his professional crafting of the artefact.

Oscar Pearson, BBC Channel Islands and former student at King’s School where STC also attended in his youth, delivered an illustrated talk on the early life of Samuel in Ottery and the work of the Coleridge Memorial Trust, this latter an appreciative and supportive account of its aims and aspirations, from the existing Poetry Stones to its plans for the memorial statue. Oscar also finished the evening with a wonderful reading of ‘Kubla Khan’, a celebration of the very best poetry in the beautiful and historically significant setting of St Mary’s Church.

John Pilsworth, Chair of CMT, outlined the Trust’s fundraising plans, highlighting the huge success of the Poetry Stones, both in the financial achievement of completing that project and its celebrating significance, as well as an honest, and surely accurate reference to the failure of previous generations to provide a more general memorial presence honouring in the town this birthplace of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In his adamant assertion that this generation would deliver, the evening had its definitive positive and purposeful start to the fundraising campaign.

No doubt, glorious pictures will follow from Phyllis, Ottery’s most prominent and active photography archivist and celebrator of all that matters in this wonderful town.

[Photos can be found on the CMT Facebook page and its Twitter page]

Coleridge Weekend Programme, October 20th – 22nd, 2017

Friday 20th October – Afternoon, 3.00pm – at St Mary’s Church
Free admission

An edited reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Mr Laurie Palmer in period costume.
Poetry readings by The King’s School students.

Friday 20th October – Evening, 7.00pm – at St Mary’s Church
Free admission

Coleridge Memorial Trust Chairman Mr John Pilsworth:  Welcome

Presentation by Dr Sandra Tuppen, Lead Curator, Modern Archives and Manuscripts 1601-1850 from The British Library entitled Samuel Taylor Coleridge manuscripts at the British Library

Talk by CMT sculptor Mr Nicholas Dimbleby on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge sculptural memorial.

~ Interval with refreshments: soft drinks, wine ~

Presentation by Mr Oscar Pearson [BBC Channel Islands] on the Coleridge Memorial Trust’s achievements and aims with colour photos.

Chairman’s outline of the CMT fundraising plans.

Reading of Kubla Khan and other Coleridge poems.

~ Exhibition all weekend in the Dorset Aisle – STC banners, maquette etc. ~

Saturday 21st October

9.30 – 10.30am

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Birthday Celebration peel of bells by the Bellringers of St Mary’s Church, Ottery, in honour of the town’s most famous son. Sponsored by Otter Vale Probus Club.

12.30 for 1.00pm

Coleridge Anniversary Lunch at the Tumbling Weir Hotel, organised by Mr Robert Neal – Ottery St Mary Heritage Society.

Guest speaker: Mr Justin Sheppard, Chair of the Coleridge Society (The Friends of Coleridge) – talk titled Coleridge and Kubla Khan


Short guided walk [at own risk] and talk – led by Mr Sam Coleridge to Pixies Parlour. Meet on the bridge between the Land of Canaan car park and The Tumbling Weir Hotel on the Mill Stream. £10 contribution a head for fundraising; children under 12 years old free. Dogs welcome if on lead.

Sunday Morning, 22nd October

10.00 am – 4.00pm approx.

Coleridge Link – strenuous 9 mile walk [at own risk] led by Mr Sam Coleridge. Meet on the bridge over the Mill Stream between the Land of Canaan car park and The Tumbling Weir Hotel. £10 contribution a head for fundraising. Dogs welcome if on lead. Bring water, suitable walking shoes and clothes.

A photo by Phyllis Baxter taken recently in St Mary’s churchyard of (from left to right)  , Chris Wakefield (CMT Hon. Secretary), Richard Coleridge (GGGG grandson of Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Lord Bill Coleridge, Lady Pam Coleridge, John Pilsworth (CMT Chair)