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This report is taken from PN Review 84, Volume 18 Number 4, March - April 1992.

Coleridge in Nether Stowey David Jesson Dibley
Things in Nether Stowey are looking up. I have an unmemorable recollection of a visit while staying nearby in Henry Newboult's matchless village, Aisholt. That was in 1955, some 12 years before Nether Stowey's through traffic on the A39 was served with a by-pass. Two years ago, I drove up the main street, St Mary's, and took the right fork, Lime St, to pay a slightly less unmemorable visit to Coleridge's cottage. On that September afternoon I had the small parlour to the right of the poky hall to myself. The door that once led to Sara Coleridge's kitchen and the scalding water that tumbled onto Coleridge's foot, was not open to the public; nor were the rooms upstairs. The substitute mid-Victorian furniture, appropriately spartan, the glass-cased documents and print-pictures on the walls did not detain me for long. Unlike the future of Hardy's birthplace cottage near Dorchester, still furnished as it was when the Hardy family lived there, the Coleridges' three-and-a-half years' residence between December 1796 (the last day of the year, in fact) and June 1800 brought a succession of tenants to the cottage. It was not until 1893 that Coleridge's stay was marked by a stone tablet. An appeal initiate in 1908 raised sufficient funds for the cottage to be purchased. A year later it was handed to the National Trust. Since then it has not stood high on the Trust's long list of priorities.

Happily, the cottage now has a new and dedicated curator: Derrick ...


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