Crucial crowdfunding push for Ottery’s Coleridge memorial statue

A perspective drawing of where the statue would be located outside the church. Picture: CHRISTOPHER

A perspective drawing of where the statue would be located outside the church. Picture: CHRISTOPHER WAKEFIELD - Credit: Archant

A crowdfunding drive has been launched for the project to ‘honour and celebrate’ Ottery’s most famous son, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with a statue.

The Coleridge Memorial Trust wants the bronze statue to be in place outside Ottery St Mary Church for the 250th anniversary of Coleridge’s birth, in 2022.

The trust has already raised £30,000 towards the total £80,000 cost, but needs a further £20,000 to ensure that the first crucial stages of the project can be completed in time: getting the sculpture started, preparing the site, arranging public engagement notices and planning a big unveiling event.

There is currently no memorial statue to Coleridge anywhere in the world – which the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion thinks is ‘completely astonishing’.

Speaking in support of the Ottery project, he said: “Coleridge is one of the greatest poets and thinkers who ever lived, as well as being one of the most fascinating human beings; Ottery St Mary should honour and celebrate him.”

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Mike Ferguson from the Coleridge Memorial Trust said the statue will also be a focal point for visitors to the town.

He said: “Ottery’s future survival as a sustainable economic and social entity depends to a certain extent on tourism, and if we look to our tourism assets – why people would want to visit Ottery – it’s basically the church and Coleridge, and as footfall is crucial for the sustainability of the museum, the statue will add to the numbers through those doors, as well as to the church.”

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Sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby is ready to begin work on the statue, and planning permission is in place for the site on the south side of the church, where Coleridge spent time as a boy.

But the crowdfunding campaign had to be postponed in March as the Covid-19 lockdown began, meaning months of potential fundraising were lost.

Now, with lockdown easing and people looking to the future, Mr Ferguson hopes support for the project will gain momentum.

For further information and to donate online, click here.

Cheques made out to Coleridge Memorial Trust can also be handed in or posted to the Curious Otter bookshop, 10 Mill Street, Ottery St Mary EX11 1AD.

A previous project culminated in poetry stones being laid on the Land of Canaan.

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