The National Trust, Counter-Heritage and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Heritage and Counter-Heritage: Are They So Very Different?

Two recent visits to ‘historic’ houses and a recent walk have made me question the usual binary opposition of heritage and counter-heritage, and got me thinking that perhaps they lie rather more on a continuum.
A visit to Dennis Severs’ house,
A counter-heritage disenchantment walk,
and a visit to the National Trust cottage of Samuel Taylor Coleridge at Nether Stowey have set me a-thinking.

It struck me at Nether Stowey, that the National Trust quite-right wish for visitor-enchantment, involved counter-heritage practices too … and if the National Trust does that …

The Coleridges’ Cottage: Samuel and Sara

It sits in Lime Street, Nether Stowey,
Just off the old Minehead turnpike road,
Opposite a pub called the Ancient Mariner:
(The inn sign has no picture, just the words:
THE ANCIENT MARINER in upper case,
With a tiny inset top left: Lyrical Ballads)
The cottage of Samuel Taylor Coleridge –
The home and workplace of Sara Coleridge,
Now a National Trust Museum –
Involves an imaginative re-creation
Of how the cottage might have looked in 1797,
In that year of poetic wonderment;

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Why Is There an L in Samon?

Dear Stuart,


I was born in Liverpool in 1952. It seems strange looking back but Liverpool was still a bombsite as it was only 7 years after the end of the war. We lived 300 yards from the docks and through a child’s eyes everything seemed to be in black and white. I was the second oldest of 5 children. My mother had her children before she was 21 and we lived in 2 rooms in a privately rented house.
My father was pretty useless and he preferred the company of his mates in the pub and I remember him spending time in prison but my mother told us that he was working in Butlins holiday camp during the periods of his absence.

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The Historical Symbolism of the FVR Football Shirt

Lines of Green: the hills and vales of the Five Valleys;
Lines of Red: Stroud Scarlet stretched on tenterhooks;
Lines of Black: Denotes strength and clarity of vision
And the slave trade and its abolition

History, topography, politics and football,
All conjoined in the design of the FVR football shirt,
A revolutionary shirt,
In nature, design and intention:
An inclusive shirt,
Not just for Stroud,
But for the Five Valleys too,
And the wide world beyond,
A shirt from the People’s Republic of Stroud:
Art of Clay.

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Saint Lawrence

Saint Lawrence

Lawrence, according to Wikipedia, originally came from Valencia in Spain. He was a young deacon in Rome under Pope Sixtus II, before Christianity became the established religion, at the time when the Emperor Valerian launched a persecution against the early church. In 258 Sixtus was beheaded while celebrating the liturgy and Lawrence was ordered to hand over the church’s treasured possessions. He asked for three days to gather them, over which time he distributed the precious things amongst the community before presenting himself with a delegation of marginalised and disabled people.

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Bunyan, Blake, Wordsworth and Forest Green

Blake, Bunyan, Wordsworth and Forest Green

And lo, it came to pass that when the Forest Green fans sang
‘Stand up for the Forest Green’,
All fans throughout the ground and stands,
Stood up.
And when the Forest Green fans sang
‘Sit down for the Forest Green’,
All fans throughout the ground and stands,
Sat down.

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Sub. Rooms: Theatre of Memories

Public buildings are not just about accounts, ledgers and money,
They are also about what Raphael Samuel called ‘Theatres of Memory’,
Where varying conceptions of ‘Heritage’ can collude, collide, or elide:
If each of us could walk alone through the Subscription Rooms,
Alone in memory, reverie and seasonal darkness,
As the clock, Jacob Marley-like, chimed through the night,
What a miscellany of ghosts of Stroud Subscription Rooms’ past
Would be invoked!
Those concerts, those bands, those exhibitions, those meetings,
Those queues, the café, the bar,
Tickets for shows and the National Express bus …

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Dennis Severs’ House

It’s like History on Acid,
A Raphael Samuel Magical Mystery Tour,
Not Seven Rooms of Gloom,
But ten rooms which haunt and hex:
The dead still alive,
Watching us trip through space and time,
Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard outside,
Peering through the window panes,
Observing us in our candle-lit dream,
Clocks ticking away the century
Until it’s the time for Jacob Marley
To makes his visitation and warning,
Not just to Ebenezer Scrooge,

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