April 2018 | Nate Pedersen

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Casket Found in Wine Cellar

SamuelTaylorColeridge.jpgIn case you missed the news that surfaced two weeks ago in Britain, it bears repeating here: the casket of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the great English Romantic poet, was rediscovered in a wine cellar beneath a church in England.

Coleridge, author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, died in 1834 at age 61 from heart failure, possibly connected to his decades-long addiction to opium. The poet passed away in Highgate, London, across the green from Old Highgate Chapel where he was originally interred in a family vault. 127 years later, in 1961, the family vault was found to be derelict and a successful international fundraising appeal led to the removal of Coleridge's coffin, and those of his family members, to the nearby St. Michael's Church. There, the coffins were placed in a seemingly suitable space, a dry and secure wine cellar beneath the church, then promptly sealed up behind a brick wall.  Over time, as staff changed and parishioners passed away or moved along, the exact location of the coffins was forgotten.

An excavation earlier this year revealed a ventilation block leading past the 1960s brick wall. There, after shining a flashlight through the hole, excavators rediscovered the five Coleridge coffins. The church has plans to restore the space and allow public access to the Coleridge tomb.

St. Michael's Church is also planning a Coleridge Day in June to help raise funds for the restoration. Surviving Coleridge family members will be present, with recitals and lectures on offer as entertainment.

[Image from Wikipedia]