Sunday, January 12, 2020

Coleridge Cottage


We really enjoy visiting National Trust sites when touring Great Britain.  The homes of authors especially intrigue me.  Today I want to take you to the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Somerset, England.  As I recorded in my travel journal,  the wind and rain pouring down on our drive to Nether Stowey offered a dismal look at the landscape. 






In 1797 Coleridge lived here, though his home was not this handsome at the time.  It is said "why would a young man of 24 move his family into a mouse infested freezing hovel."



Though he only lived here for three short years, Coleridge was his most productive while here.  Wordsworth lived here briefly and together they began, Lyrical Ballards, a selection of poetry that is said to begin the Romantic Literary movement.  The nature of the countryside inspired Coleridge to write many poems that are still loved today.  So come along inside with us as we see where Coleridge and his family lived.


When we enter the home we are met by a lovely woman named, Margot.  She enthusiastically tells us about Coleridge and his life in the cottage.  She is amazed that an American would even know about him.  For this, Grayden and I both were surprised as we told her we learned of him in high school and college and know that our grandchildren have studied about him as well.  She was happy to hear that.


The fire in the fireplace felt so good that cold October morning as we remember the little cold family that lived here so long ago.


Frost at Midnight


The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                      But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

         Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

         Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night-thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.
Coleridge's poem was written in this room as he watched the frost creep on his windowpane as his baby was sleeping nearby.





The Cottage was built in the 17th century as two attached buildings with a parlor, kitchen and service room on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs and an adjoining barn.





Coleridge was born in Devon on October 21, 1772.  He attended Jesus College, Cambridge.  During childhood he suffered with rheumatic fever and had ill health since.  He was treated with laudanum.  Some say this introduced his opium addiction.  


Coleridge had four children with his wife Sara.  Berkeley, Derwent, Sara and Hartley Coleridge.  


After looking throughout the small cottage we went out back into the lovely garden.







The garden was so pretty this October afternoon.  It was so nice the rain lifted and allowed us to enjoy the exterior of the cottage. 


Across the street we had lunch at The Ancient Mariner Pub.  



It was here in his cottage in Nether Stowey that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", "Kubla Khan", "Frost at Midnight", "Christabel", "This Lime Tree Bower, My Prison".   Thanks to the National Trust, we were able to get a feel of where he and his family lived and worked.

Thank you for stopping by, my friends.  I will soon be taking a couple months off from blogging.  I'm looking forward to checking in with you then.  Thank you so much for visiting! 

















28 comments:

  1. This is exactly the sort of place I like to visit, I enjoyed the history and literature and seeing a glimpse of how people used to live. The little baby crib is adorable. Thanks for taking us along!
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. This little spot was a small glimpse of Coleridge and his life, Amalia. It's always interesting to see the homes of writers. Thanks for coming along. xo ♥

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  2. I have to say that I studied more of Coleridge and Wordsworth during my American college years than I ever did in Britain. I wonder what Margot would say! I can't help wondering if the cottage hasn't been raised by a few courses; this thought is due to the distance between the eaves and the windows in your photo and the sketch on the book page. The façade just doesn't look right somehow.

    ~~~Waving~~~From Across the Pond~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

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    1. Good eye, Deb, as the cottage was refurbished in the later part of the 19th century and run as an inn. Margot would be proud to know you studied Coleridge in America! She was most enthusiastic about him and his works. xoxo ♥

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    2. And yes, the roof was raised to accommodate another story!

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  3. How interesting! Not knowing of his opium addiction, I always thought of his poetry as exotic. Hmmm... Not sure that three years at a home makes it one’s home as say, twenty or thirty years. Perhaps though, having had a special influence, the answer is yes.

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    1. It's a little more than George Washington slept here, Vee, I suppose. Ha The Coleridge family certainly moved around, no doubt due to his addiction and obvious mental illness.

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  4. I enjoyed reading about Coleridge and seeing where he lived because of his connection to Wordsworth, whose two houses in the Lake District I visited. Are you off on another jaunt or just taking a social media break?

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    1. I like getting a feel of an author in relation to their homes. We visited the Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, Allan Bank, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount in the Lake District. I remember the friendship they both shared that probably was frayed because of addiction issues with Coleridge.
      We will be going on another jaunt. I really don't like to fool with social media on vacations. I guess that's why it takes me so long to record our travels.

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  5. Martha, all I know of Coleridge is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, so this post really added to my education. Thank you! Love the photos of cottage and garden. Enjoy your jaunt, and we'll look forward to hearing all about it someday.

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    1. Jean, I really thought by now I would have finished all of my posts on our last trip to England! There always seems to be something that keeps me from finishing up on our Golden Anniversary trip.

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  6. I'm with him -- I can stand the cold -- but not a cold room! These rooms look delightfully warm and friendly. I really appreciate your giving us some info on him. I don't know where I was sleeping during English lit and poetry classes but I know little of his work and certainly none of his life.

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    1. You would love to meet Margot at Coleridge Cottage, Jean. She would fill your head with so much about him and his work. Stay cozy in your warm home, my friend!

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  7. Martha, I really enjoyed this post and all the history and lovely photos. Thank you, too, for adding the poem and thank you for the wonderful tour of the cottage. That last paragraph spoke to me as I just posted a photo of an icicle hanging down from our gutter and exclaiming that I sure enjoy all the different seasons God has designed for us.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed "Frost at Midnight" Ellen and Coleridge Cottage. Our winter is so mild this year that there are no icicles. I love the change of seasons and find great comfort in the rhythm it gives life.

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  8. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Samuel, and a great description, poem, and photos from your trip to his house. Thank you Martha Ellen, super post as always.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed Coleridge Cottage, Denise. Thank you for your kind comments, my friend.

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  9. As always, you have taken us on an informative and fascinating journey! I, too, am surprised that the guide was surprised that you knew of Coleridge. "Cold" seems to be a notable characteristic of this house . . . and yet so many of his most well-known works were penned there.

    Enjoy your blog break, sweet friend! I will miss you, but I'll be right here when you start writing and sharing again! ❤

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    1. "Cold" was a recurring theme at the cottage, Cheryl. We've never thought of Coleridge to be so little known that his works aren't read around the world.
      I'll miss you as well, my dear friend. You know us, we're always ready for another adventure. ♥

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    2. Happy adventuring, Martha Ellen and Grayden!! ❤

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  10. I very much enjoyed this post and reading the bit you posted. I love the history of it all! Thank you for sharing. I'm going to miss you for 2 whole months! But will look forward to seeing where you'll be off to. Safe travels and have fun. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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    1. Teresa, I love sharing our travels here and I really appreciate your kind comments so much. Thank you!

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  11. What a charming cottage. Love the fireplace with all the brick. I'm not familiar with this author, Martha Ellen, but I'm glad to see a portrait of him. The garden was so pretty with many different plants and shrubs.

    I will miss you when you take two months off from blogging. But I want you to have a relaxing and restful break. You deserve it, Martha Ellen.

    ~Sheri

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    1. Sheri, the gardens at the National Trust sites are always so lovely and well maintained.
      Thank you for your well wishes. I'll be back soon.

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  12. I love the cottage. I really wonder how it was when Coleridge lived here. I see it's painted and orderly but then I think of how it must have been in his day. The gardens I enjoy seeing. Laudanum was given out like it was water I guess in those days for pain etc.
    Rough times. I always say sometimes I would like to step back in the old days in some of the beautiful places I read about during Victorian times just for a short time. The more I read, the more I say, probably not.

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    1. These were really rough times for Coleridge and his little family, Betsy. The cottage has gone through transformations over the years with a story added when it was an inn. I love hearing about history, but really believe we are so spoiled it would be quite hard on us!

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  13. You have such a wonderful way of bringing us right where you were in your travels, Martha,I found this post so informative and enlightening. I think Mr Coleridge was a very sensitive man, how sad that he became addicted to such a powerful drug, as happens so many times through taking medications.
    Enjoy your time off from blogging, I look forward to hearing from you when you return.
    Blessings,
    Sue

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    1. I agree with you about Coleridge, Sue. Through his writings one can read his sensitivities. It is sad that drug addiction still plagues many.
      Thank you so much for your kind comments. I will remember your husband in my prayers.

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