Coleridge Poem Leaving The UK?/Painting With Poetry Link – Poetry News Roundup March 20th

Today’s poetry new round-up looks at a rare poem that is at risk of leaving the country, and a rare art find with links to poetry.

Rare Anti-slavery Poem at Risk of Leaving UK

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), says that a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which looks at the evils of slavery and the fate of the slaves who had to endure the Middle Passage transportation route, is at risk of leaving the UK.

The poem, which is a Greek Sapphic ode with the title “Ode On The West-Indian Slave Trade”, was awarded the Browne Medal for Classical composition by the University of Cambridge. This is the only known draft of the poem, which was written by Coleridge 15 years before the abolition of the slave trade by parliament.

The DCMS believe that the manuscript is worth around £20,400 plus VAT, and they are hoping that a domestic buyer will be found for this important piece of history so that it might remain in the UK. They have also advised that an application for an export licence on the manuscript will be put on hold until the 16th of May to give time for a domestic buyer to be found.

Speaking about the manuscript, the Arts and Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, said that it was a fantastic manuscript written by one of the greatest British poets and it would be fantastic for it to remain in the country where it could be enjoyed and studied by future generations.

Flat Wall in Historic York Road Reveals Rare Painting with Poetry Link

Renovation work on a flat in Micklegate, York, has unveiled friezes that are believed to be roughly 400 years old.

Historic England believes that the paintings may be of significant national interest and offer up a look at the history of the street.

The house belongs to Dr Budworth, who moved in in October 2020. During kitchen renovations last year, the paintings were discovered on both sides of the chimney just below the ceiling where they were boarded up. Once he began lifting the panels off the wall the colours of the art under the remnants of Victorian-era wallpaper became visible.

When he further investigated, he discovered the that subject of the paintings were scenes from Emblems a book written by the poet Francis Quarles in 1635. The art is painted directly in the plaster, and experts believe it dates back to the 17th Century.

The paintings were originally found in 1998 when they were photographed, covered back up and then forgotten about. They are being hailed by Historic England as an “exciting rediscovery”. The placement of the paintings also sheds some light on the development of the street. The walls they are on appear to be older than the buildings either side and they are cut off by the front of the building and the ceiling offering a clue to how the street developed.

It is hoped that funding can be secured in order for conservation work to be carried out.


  • Eileen Clark

    I found this a very interesting article, You never know what your going to discover in old buildings!

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