Samuel Taylor Coleridge's burial vault in Highgate will open to public for first time

Richard Coleridge, the poet's great-great-great-great grandson at the entrance to the crypt

Richard Coleridge, the poet's great-great-great-great grandson at the entrance to the crypt in St Michael's Church, Highgate - Credit: The Coleridge Trust

The gates to where Samuel Taylor Coleridge is buried will be flung open to the public for the first time this weekend.

St Michael’s Church crypt, in South Grove, Highgate will be open on Saturday (June 11) so that people can visit its hidden 17th Century wine cellar where the poet lies buried.

The crypt where Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his family are buried

The crypt where Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his family are buried will be opened to the public for the first time - Credit: The Coleridge Trust

The event, to coincide with the village’s famous Fair in the Square, will be to help draw attention to the sorry state in which the coffins of the author of The Ancient Mariner and four members of his family lie.

Coleridge died in Highgate on July 25, 1834 as a result of heart failure compounded by an unknown lung disorder.

Since 1961 Coleridge, his wife Sarah, daughter Sara, son-in-law (and nephew) Henry and grandson Herbert have lain at rest in the wine cellar beneath St Michael’s church but were only found again in 2018.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's coffin

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's coffin was rediscovered beneath the dust and debris of a 17th century wine cellar underneath St Michael’s Church in Highgate. - Credit: The Coleridge Trust

All five Coleridges had previously been buried in a family tomb sunk beneath the chapel of Highgate School, in North Road.

The Coleridge Trust (TCT) has been formed to help refurbish the area within the vault and wine cellar and to create a space worthy of the poet and his talented family.

There are also plans to create an education centre there dedicated to the poet and his role in the wider Romantic Movement in English poetry as well as nurturing the poetry of contemporary, more diverse, forms of poetic expression.

Graffiti in the crypt

Graffiti in St Michael's Crypt where Samuel Taylor Coleridge is buried - Credit: The Coleridge Trust

TCT Chair Alan West said: “The Coleridges were moved in 1961 from a  crumbling mausoleum under Highgate School Chapel; dumped in a wine cellar; bricked up, and forgotten about.

"They were moved, if you like, from a tip to a tip and it’s very much up to our Trust, with others’ help, to create for them a lasting burial place worthy of their stature in British as well as world literature.

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“We hope by opening the cellar and vault up to the public we can focus attention on the need to put right what has been a long-term wrong.”

He expressed his "deep gratitude" to the Rev. Kunle Ayodeji for the help and support he and members of the St Michael’s congregation have given to the project.