Coleridge Cottage glows with candlelight as the poet Ian McMillan reads Coleridge’s evocative poem ‘Frost at Midnight’ in front of the very place it is believed to have been written. The 17th Century cottage in Nether Stowey is now a Grade II listed building. After renting it in 1797 Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote many of his greatest works and it was here that the Romantic movement truly began during visits by and lively debates with Wordsworth and other of the movements luminaries.
The oldest parts of the cottage are now presented as the Coleridge family might have known them and visitors can experience for themselves the wonderful feeling of being in the very same space as one of the world’s great literary voices. Ian sits in front of the original inglenook fireplace in the parlour, which was discovered behind modern refurbishments in early 2015, in perhaps the exact spot where Coleridge watched over his sleeping infant as 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.’
When Ian introduces the poem he pulls out the line ‘with all the numberless goings-on of life’ for special mention, and if you watch the video carefully you will see a flicker of movement when Ian reaches this line. Perhaps Coleridge is still enjoying the quiet solitude of that fire…