Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Four things I didn’t know about Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the revered poet of Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan fame:

  1. He had a serious opium addiction for most of his adult life
  2. He travelled throughout the Mediterranean in the early years of the 19th century, mainly to Sicily and Malta, ostensibly for health reasons….but his opium addiction only became more intense
  3. He lived at Nether Stowey in Somerset in 1797-98
  4. The Coleridge Way is a long-distance footpath, covering 51 miles from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth, on the Devon coast

We’ve just got back from a couple of days in Somerset, for the very happy occasion of seeing Mike & Kirsty Dear get married. The wedding was at the Holford Combe Hotel in Holford, but we stayed at the rather splendid The Old House in nearby Nether Stowey.

Gill sorted out the booking and we ended up staying in The Coleridge Suite. STC’s friend and patron Thomas Poole owned the house, and let the poet stay here before he moved into a nearby cottage with his family. The Book Room was where STC, and occasionally his fellow Lakeland poet William Wordsworth and other literary luminaries of the time, would talk and work.

What a pleasure to stay in such a historic and poetic space, and to find out more about STC from the articles and books lying around. The well-thumbed biographies by Richard Holmes – Early Visions (1772-1804) and Darker Reflections (1804-1834) – were particularly informative.

And the day after the wedding, we walked a 3-mile stretch of The Coleridge Way, into the Quantocks ‘twixt Nether Stowey and Holford, on paths oft trod by poetic legends and good friends Coleridge & Wordsworth.

Another thing to add to the Just Retiring list….complete the rest of The Coleridge Way, and find out more about this intriguing character.


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