Church bell to ring for anniversary of death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Richard Coleridge, Rev Kunle Ayodeji and Drew Clode outside St Michael's Church, Highgate

Richard Coleridge, Rev Kunle Ayodeji and Drew Clode outside St Michael's Church, Highgate - Credit: Polly Hancock

A bell will toll in the belfry of St Michael’s Church on Saturday to commemorate the death of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The bell will toll five times: for the poet himself and the four other members of his family who lie in the crypt of the Highgate church.

Sir Paul Coleridge, a descendant of the poet’s family and president of the Coleridge Trust, said: "This is really a great tribute that St Michael’s is making to honour the passing of one of the most significant contributors to English poetry, theology and letters.

"It is a simple but moving recognition of his greatness, and of the astonishing talents that he and his immediate family brought the national culture of the time.”

A Sotherby's technician shows off a portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, signed and dated G. Dawe 1812

A Sotherby's technician shows off a portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, signed and dated G. Dawe 1812 - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Although Coleridge and his family were originally buried in the local churchyard, in 1961 they were re-interred in the church crypt, in a bricked up, rubble-strewn wine cellar – part of the house on whose foundations St Michael’s was built.

A film created by The Coleridge Trust and hosted by STC’s great great great great grandson is to be screened on the anniversary of his death. He died on July 25 1834.


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Academics Malcolm Guite – a poet, priest, and Coleridge scholar – and Seamus Perry, professor of English literature at Oxford University, will help piece together the poet’s life in Highgate Village and the extent to which his work developed after he’d taken up residence there in 1816.

 Sir Paul will conduct viewers on a walk round Highgate marking some points where the poet lived, worked, walked and died.

A slab in St Michael's Church, inscribed poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's words

A slab in St Michael's Church, inscribed poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's words - Credit: The Coleridge Trust

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Richard Coleridge said: “This is a wonderful and thoughtful commemoration of my ancestor’s death. He is, quite rightly, associated with the West Country where much of his early creative work – including The Ancient Mariner – was conceived and written.

"It’s too easily forgotten that he spent the last 18 years of his life in Highgate, which is where, cared for by the Gillman family, he slowly learned to reflect on his life and work. It is almost certain that while he was here he reconnected with his Anglican faith at St Michael’s.”

Revd Kunle Ayodeji, vicar of St Michael’s, said: “We will be commemorating the death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge which brought to an end a fascinating, inspirational life during which the poet produced some of the greatest poems, and thoughts, in the English language.

"He died two years after our church was opened and was here for the opening ceremony in 1832.”

Visit thecoleridgetrust.com for details of the film on July 25.

3, The Grove, where Coleridge lived from 1823 to 1834. Picture: Mark Collinson

3 The Grove, where Coleridge lived from 1823 to 1834 - Credit: Mark Collinson

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