Coleridge’s Cottage is nestled in the Somerset countryside and is as beautiful as it is haunting. The home of the Coleridge family between 1697 – 1699 it was where Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote some of his most celebrated poems including ‘Kubla Khan’, ‘Frost at Midnight’ and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and a great visit for a day out.
This cottage has so much history in it and you can imagine it as the tiny dwelling it was during Coleridge’s time – full of dust, mice and darkness. Derelict by today’s standards this would be the family’s home during some terrible times including the death of their 8 month son Berkeley from a reaction to the smallpox vaccination.
Despite this sadness, which you can feel pounding through the walls of this cottage, the downstairs is more welcoming and you can imagine the front room ringing out with banter and debate between Coleridge and his many friends who would often visit including William Wordsworth.
This is a wonderful place to bring children, unlike many National Trust properties this is very much a ‘please touch’ house. They tell you to rummage through the drawers and pick up his (recreated) letters and even have a go at using a flint to start a fire. Ours loved having a go at writing with a quill!
There are also trails specifically designed for children, or they can spend their time spotting the many mice (don’t panic, not real ones!) that live in the house.
For me, one of my favourite parts was the garden. You could imagine picnics from hundreds of years ago amongst the wild flowers and long grass. The National Trust have set up some lovely benches where you can sit and spend a while, and if you choose they have little audio stories around, such as a letter from a Bristol printer telling a friend about his time visiting the Coleridges in that garden which bring the past alive even more.
We loved it here, despite its melancholy you can feel a sense of history and it was wonderful imagining the poems that were written in this very spot. One thing though…as we walked up the creaking staircase to the original 2 bedrooms we could hear a recording of a baby crying. But when we were upstairs we didn’t hear the recording again or see where it was coming from. I’m hoping there was actually a recording of a baby crying….
There is a small shop and lovely little cafe here. Find out more – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage/