I had a very interesting trip today to ALFOXTON where I presented and wrote a little film 7 years ago. The current owners- An extraordinary Buddhist group, are planning a literary hub and international centre just as I had envisaged and Jayraja, the chap pictured in my photos, explained to me that not only due to legal issues have they had to Sleep in the OPEN but that if it were not for donations they would not have furniture! An extraordinary statement on how these wonderful new owners are trying to make good of a very challenging scenario – really suffering for art. In a quest to save what could be a cultural centre. Sadly this house – one of the most important cultural arts literature places of worldwide importance is just rotting away…Even though its positive my film helped save it the sad truth is its derelict leaking the power points dont work and the roof is falling in. So I am going to see if I can launch an APPEAL once again. If only George Harrison (another Buddhist) were alive…(mind you it isnt exactly easy contacting a Beatle!) If you arent aware please check out my Alfoxton film. In literature terms this place is every bit as important as Dove cottage and Coleridge cottage nearby yet this 300 year old property actually is unchanged UNLIKE Coleridge Cottage which as Grade 1 got all the care while this actually SUPERIOR setting has been left to crumble. It continues to be a NATIONAL DISGRACE of monumental proportions. Endless witless owners have cut costs and treated the place like a pig sty. At least the owners now care and want to save it and thats a massive improvement. Coleridge and Wordsworth have influenced the world of music (particularly Coleridge) from Fleetwood Macs Albatross to countless other mentions from Franke Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasure Dome (Kubla Khan) through to Iron Maiden. I would compare it to where Lennon and McCartney first composed together. For it is here that Coleridge first read “Rime” to Wordsworth. As it stands the house needs rescuing. The ecological aspects of the Romantic poets cannot be underestimated. Not only the Pantisocracy commune movement (which should be resurrected!) but the reverence shown to nature in a very 1960’s sense, but far from posturing they really meant it. Spy allegations and all manner of intrigue made their stay at Alfoxton very memorable…Perhaps a fundraising concert might work? King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard ?! It will need something big. But to start with some BBC journalists…I will keep you posted…https://sites.google.com/view/alfoxtonpark/history
Incidentally there are two ghosts of servants according to the new owners and by total unconnected coincidence one of the (Buddhist owner) members is called Hartley – Strangely this was Coleridge’s sons name and Frost at Midnight with the lines “The frost performs its secret ministry” was indeed the inspiration behind his name but long before any involvement which is…”Strange but True”! As a last note – to those who say “there are more important things”. What is more important than giving hope at times of empty loneliness? Poems like This Lime tree Bower my Prison (which inspired Shelley Byron…Jim Morrison…) is used in prisons to give hope and for those in Lockdown or hostages this has also been the case. Art can help enrich and give therapy and hope to those at the end of their tether. Primo Levi Cited Ancient Mariner as his favorite ever work and used it to great effect to show the suffering in the concentration camps of the second world war. Coleridge’s words resonate across the ages and reach us from Iron Maiden to Monty Python to “Water Water Everywhere” said by the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz. Much Like the Beatles and Coleridge’s favorite romantic composter Beethoven Coleridge found a seminal base to launch what would become the crowning inspirational moment in the history of romantic culture literature and music worldwide. Would we let Dove Cottage, Coleridge Cottage or Lennon and McCartney’s Liverpool places like Lennon’s Liverpool home just rot? (which is protected by the National Trust…Again the GRADING was clearly off with Alfoxton but in some ways it may lead if saved to a literary hub rather than a private dwelling or hotel as id always hoped) To ignore Alfoxton is as bad as the doomed sailors treatment of the Albatross. Ignore at our peril!