“Samuel - welcome back home.” 

Those were the words spoken by Javeria Coleridge, chair of the Coleridge Memorial Trust, after a statue of ‘Ottery’s most famous son’ was unveiled outside the parish church on Friday, October 21. 

The installation of the statue was the culmination of a 10-year project by the Trust, and around 270 people crowded into the churchyard to see it revealed to the public for the first time. 

The unveiling was carried out by Dr John Pilsworth, vice chair of the Trust and Richard Coleridge, a  great-great-great-great grandson of the poet. There was applause and cheering as the life-size figure of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, cast in bronze by sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby, was uncovered. 

In her speech preceding the unveiling, which took place just before 11am, Javeria said: “It was at this moment 250 years ago, not a stone’s throw from where we are standing, in the schoolhouse that Samuel was born to his mother and father The Reverend John and Anne Coleridge. 

“By celebrating this 250th anniversary I am so proud to announce that we, The Coleridge Memorial Trust, are unveiling a statue of Coleridge right here in the churchyard where Samuel grew up, playing and dreaming as a young child.  

“This has taken a very small team of dedicated volunteers the best part of 10 years of hard work and fundraising to enable Ottery to have a full-size sculpture of one of the country’s greatest poets.” 

She thanked the Trust’s Patron Lord Coleridge, trustees Dr John Pilsworth, Chris Wakefield and David Roberts, and its committee members. These include Mike Ferguson who was unable to attend on Friday. 

After the unveiling, there was a service of celebration in the church, with readings by The Hon Samuel J Taylor Coleridge and a Cradle Song performed by Florence and Iris Martin, descendants of the poet, and accompanied by their father. The organist Adam Martin is also a descendant. 

Friday’s events took place during Ottery’s first Literary Festival, which included other activities relating to the poet. These included a Coleridge heritage walk and an illustrated talk on Saturday, and another talk on the poet’s theology and spiritual life as part of Sunday morning’s service at the Parish Church. 

The Coleridge statue project was fully funded by donations and an East Devon District Council community grant.