Campaign for poetic memorial to Coleridge in Ottery

An artist's impression of what the Kubla Khan poetry stones may look like along the new Ottery footpath and cycleway

An artist's impression of what the Kubla Khan poetry stones may look like along the new Ottery footpath and cycleway

Archant

A unique community project to commemorate Ottery’s most famous son has been launched.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s legendary poem ‘Kubla Khan’ is set to be immortalised in stone along the new footpath and cycleway in the town.

The Coleridge Memorial Project (CMP), set up in 2009 by local enthusiasts of the Ottery-born poet and philosopher, is raising the money engrave the poem in its entirety along a seventy metre granite kerb beside the new path from the Land of Canaan to The King’s School.

Project chairman Chris Wakefield is keen for Ottery to establish itself as a principal focus of interest in Coleridge.

He said: “The poetry stones are our first step to bringing Coleridge to life for local residents and visitors alike. Coleridge is the only literary genius that Devon has produced and we aim to draw attention to that in every way we can.”

Born in 1772, Coleridge’s father was the vicar at Ottery Parish Church, he went on to help found the ‘Romantic’ movement with his friend William Wordsworth, and become a highly influential literary critic.

He is perhaps most famous for his work ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.

If completed the memorial would be the longest engraved poem in the world, but to reach its target the CMP need to raise a minimum of £3,000 locally.

This would allow them to unlock funds available to them through the Heritage Lottery Fund and the ‘Making it Local’ scheme operating in East Devon.

Principal fundraiser for the project, John Pilsworth, said a lot of work has gone into the applications and is upbeat about their chances of success.

He added: “The idea for the poetry stones came from Ottery itself, and the town is very much in support of our efforts. All our donors will be recorded in a ‘Coleridge Memorial Book of Sponsors’, so the history of how the stones were established in the town will be kept for posterity.”

A sample of the stones is on view in the window of the Tourist Information Centre in Ottery, and more information including how to donate is on www.coleridgememorial.org.uk.


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