Phase 1 – The Poetry Stones

The idea of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s (STC’s) poetry engraved on stone and displayed outdoors in Ottery St Mary, the town of his birth, came from the CMP’s Public Consultation Exercise concluded in January 2010.  In fact this idea and a bronze statue of STC were both mentioned almost equally by those who replied to the Consultation questionnaire. The cost of a bronze statue (in the region of £70,000 in 2010) and the difficulty of funding one forced the Committee to make this Phase 2 of the CMP’s aims.

The exact form of poetry in the town did not emerge immediately but rather evolved over a period of time during 2010.  Coincidently, a new footpath to the new Coleridge footbridge was being constructed in 2011 and this path was also to be the new route to the King’s School.  As STC was a pupil at King’s, it seemed appropriate that a link between him and his school was as an idea worth “setting in stone”!  Hence the idea of granite kerbstones engraved with his poetry.

Each line of the poem is engraved on a separate stone (750mm, 1000mm or 1200mm long depending on the length of the line of poetry) with short blank stones between verses. The granite is deep cut and unpainted for minimal maintenance except for infrequent cleaning with a brush and water.  Students of the King’s School undertake this task on a regular basis once a year.

Many people have asked why the Kubla Khan was selected and not another of his poems.  Being entirely practical, and we hope STC would have approved, the Kubla Khan is one of his most famous poems and almost exactly the right length to fit along side a section of the new footpath that runs from Canaan Way for 70 meters until the path branches to the left and right.  Perhaps the fates had a hand in this decision?

We hope to continue the work of celebrating Coleridge in his home town, and further afield.