A memorial to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (STC) in the town of his birth seemed long overdue and a serious gap in national honours to great Britons. Why this had not happened before remains a mystery but cost and the tendency to undervalue “the prophet in his own country” are two possible explanations. We hope that the Poetry Stones go some way towards addressing this deficit. The CMT, formerly the CMP, is committed to raising awareness locally, nationally and internationally of the town’s most famous native, and we shall make every effort to encourage residents and visitors to take an interest in him.
The CMP’s original plan for a memorial to STC was in the form of a sculpture but the cost and the difficulty of funding it in 2011 imposed a new set of priorities: tackling the poetry stones first and postponing the sculpture while we set about a new and longer term fundraising effort. There are a number of Coleridge artefacts in the church and a large number of tourists visit during the season. A suitable sculptural piece would enhance the visitors experience of the church and town.
Following a consultation exercise amongst the CMT membership in June 2014, the CMP appointed Nicholas Dimbleby at our AGM on July 9th, 2014 as the sculptor to take our project forward. You can see examples of his work at –http://www.nicholasdimbleby.co.u
Our initial ideas for the sculpture were:-
1.) The sculpture would be cast in bronze.
2.) The sculpture will be an approximately life-sized figure, or possibly 2 figures.
3.) The sculpture will be largely figurative and not abstract. It may include a “setting” which could include an inscription or poetry.
4.) The ideal location, subject to the approval of the Church and a Faculty, would be in the churchyard of St Mary’s church in Ottery St Mary where Coleridge played as a boy.
In late 2015, to our delight, the Governors of St Mary’s church, Ottery St Mary, gave their consent to a location in the churchyard for our proposed sculptural memorial to STC. For those who know the church this location is opposite the Vicar’s door.
The form of the sculpture was further developed by Nicholas Dimbleby during 2016 so that the final form of the sculpture (the young adult Coleridge) would be revealed by late 2016 in the form of a maquette, to be cast in bronze later and use to help our fundraising project in 2017.
As promised, Nicholas Dimbleby unveiled his maquette in late 2016 and it came with a surprise! Nicholas created a figure for us of the young STC in his walking attire, looking wind-swept as he would have done on the Quantocks and the many other locations that he loved. Behind him was a standing stone to emphasise his close connection with the countryside and his love of walking. On the stone there were 4 bronze plaques to be engraved with important events in Coleridge’s life.