What links the National Gallery, Coleorton and Wordsworth? In 1806, at the invitation of Sir George Beaumont, one of the originators of the National Gallery, William Wordsworth moved from Dove Cottage in Grasmere to Hall Farm. There he helped create the Winter Garden in the grounds of the newly built Coleorton Hall.
Wordsworth’s brother John, a ship’s captain, had recently died when his ship ran aground and sunk off Weymouth Sands. The family was still coming to terms with his loss. Fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge joined them on Christmas Eve, bringing with him his own demons, most of them caused by an addiction to opium.
Mantle Arts created a community audio drama to explore this fascinating period in Leicestershire history. The cast of the drama was made up of local performers from around Ashby and Leicestershire. The script was researched and written by Matthew Pegg, with support from Ashby-de-la-Zouch Museum, which offered advice, and access to books and documentary material from their archives.
The play was directed by Julian Hanby. Rehearsals took place between May and July 2016 at the museum.
There was a rehearsed reading in front of a local audience at the Venture Theatre in Ashby, and also local poet and Wordsworth expert Paul Conneally gave an illustrated talk on the background to the play. The drama was recorded over two weekends at Aspect Studios in Loughborough, with the recording process directed by Martin Berry. The play is available on CD from Ashby Museum and online.
Extracts from the play.
Wordsworth tries to work…
Coleridge at the inn.
Coleridge explains the effects of opium.
This project was supported by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund