Ottery’s memorial to Coleridge set in stone

Ottery’s lasting memorial to its most-famous son is now full steam ahead despite a last-minute hitch which threatened to derail the whole project.

Plans for a set of poetry stones along the new Coleridge Bridge in the Land of Canaan looked to have cleared every hurdle in front of them until a wrangle over insurance put the funding on hold.

But an agreement with East Devon District Council (EDDC) has been made this week meaning the Coleridge Memorial Project (CMP) will received the �30,000 funding it needs to build a 70m engraved version of Kubla Khan in Ottery St Mary.

It was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the famous romantic poet who was born in the town in 1772.

It means the 68 stones, which will form the longest outdoor poem in the world, will be in place next Easter.

CMP had to raise a little over �3,000 locally in order to unlock two grants worth �28,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the ‘Making it Local’ fund, run by East Devon and the Blackdown Hills AONB.

Thanks to local support from residents, Ottery Town Council and others they smashed their target, raising around �4,500.

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But to receive the cash they needed to make sure the project was insured, which meant persuading EDDC to agree to adopt the stones, as they will sit on council-owned land.

On Tuesday, CMP secretary John Pilsworth spoke to officials at Knowle who agreed they would be responsible for the stones once in place, thereby securing the project’s future.

John said: “We are very delighted and relieved. We can get on with completing the project now.”

He thanked all the people who had helped the project reach its target, and said the surplus will pay for information boards at the Land of Canaan.

He said one of the requirements was for the project was to be educational so CMP will be printing leaflets about Coleridge and Ottery St Mary to be distributed across Devon.

John added: “It really is a community project.

“We’ve just used Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a focus to promote the town and try and attract people to come to Ottery.”