for imagining and supporting creative, sustainable futures


for imagining and supporting creative, sustainable futures


for imagining and supporting creative, sustainable futures


for imagining and supporting creative, sustainable futures

The Mission

to gently seek and nourish
courageous new thinking, relationships and action for our times

rediscovering the
imaginative voice of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
& its relevance to challenges facing
Wales, Britain and the World


Coleridge in Wales Festival 2016 is developed and delivered by Coleridge in Wales Ltd, a not for profit company limited by guarantee, through its Board and a cascading network of partners and action groups


creative director:  Richard Parry

presidents: Gillian ClarkeDavid Crystal, Kate Thomas & Jon Gower

artistic advisor to creative director: Ivor Davies

patrons: Baroness Randerson, David Melding AM, Stephen Doughty MP

board: Robin Morrison (chair), Jane Lorimer, Chris Glynn, David Hann, Karen Robson, Mary-Ann Constantine

advisory team: Prof. John Rogerson, Fiona Owen, Emma Evans, Sian Thomas, Fern Smith, Gerald Tyler, Richard Huw Morgan, Ani Saunders, Aaron Kirkhouse

Coleridge in Wales 2016 Festival

In early summer 2016, singer and facilitator Richard Parry will set out with a band of artists, poets, musicians, actors, environmentalists, philosophers, politicians, theologians, cooks and story-tellers on the route of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s two tours of Wales.

Coleridge dropped out of Cambridge university and travelled around Wales in 1794 dreaming of founding a new, fairer society. This walking tour was bold and revolutionary.  Walking then was unfashionable and thought of as vulgar. Society was not interested in mountains.  Coleridge came to experience Welsh landscape, beauty, inspiration and to dream of a transformed society based on equality of opportunity and spirit. Wales influenced his poetry, and 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of his mid-life classic Biographia Literaria.


The 2016 touring band will perform, engage with the public, attend festival events, bring with them exhibitions, meet local communities, organisations and schools and collaborate with Welsh artists, thinkers, performers, churches, educators, makers and business leaders.


They will travel on foot, by bike and boat, and on public transport, embarking on excursions and touring the landscape.  In a very public way the Festival will explore the celebrated poetry and influential thinking of Coleridge, as it moves from town to village to city through the Welsh countryside, discovering and broadcasting Coleridge’s resonance with Welsh literature, culture, traditions and visions for contemporary life today in Wales, uncovering how Coleridge’s quest is and was already distinctively held in Welsh culture, language and history, and Wales’s connections across the world.


Coleridge’s genius has never been fully celebrated  - here’s a bold cultural Welsh adventure to re-ignite in the British public imagination an appetite for exploring Coleridge’s power of envisioning our shared landscape, industry, community, broad faith, justice, hospitality and connection.  A vision lost in other areas of Britain? Join us.


Click here to see the 2016 tour dates and route...

2016 Festival Route

When: May – August 2016

Where: The festival will tour across, up and down and through Wales, stopping at village, farm, school, city, town, business, college, hill and seaside.

Beginning near Cardiff, the capital, the Festival will travel gently, clockwise around all of Wales following maproutes of Coleridge and Iolo Morganwg. We’ll make lots of excursions and imaginative diversions with you, connecting with areas of major population and contemporary landscape in West, North, Mid and South Wales. The festival finishes at the National Eisteddfod 2016, in Abergavenny.



You shape the route... You and your participation affect the final tour route, as individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, families, holiday makers, hosts and curious adventurers. The Festival is already inspiring a mix of locally organised events, touring exhibitions, compelling theatre, local walks and routes, lectures, celebrations and offers of partnership.  We’ll be bring artists, historians, thinkers, walkers, poets and imaginative people on the road. We’ll be exploring local and international themes, in a real Welsh landscape.

Could you hold an event, tour, or create something to mark the journey? Get in touch – we’re waiting to hear from you!

the power of the past, in the present

...and our quest for creative, sustainable futures

The Return of The Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is one of the finest poems in the English language.

In 2016, see Coleridge’s greatest poem in action…  Yes. It’s ambitious!

We’re seeking to bring the ship of The Ancient Mariner into the ports of Wales:

  • the medieval sailing ship complete with ghost crew of zombies and scorched decks
  • witness the Ancient Mariner, himself, carrying the dead albatross
  • get caught up in the action, spilling onshore into the streets of welsh seaside towns and harbours
  • compelling tale, adventure, spectacle and celebration


We’re already working with the support of towns and harbours to make this happen, but the project needs your help. GET INVOLVED to help make The Return of the Ancient Mariner a spectacular international event in Welsh ports.

The National Museum of Wales has offered to display for the first time their complete set of engravings flkag1of The Ancient Mariner at the National Gallery, in Cardiff by a leading figure in British art, welsh artist and poet David Jones

"A summer family festival for the people of Wales and visitors"

Why Wales?

In what way do art, aesthetic, experience and place sit at the heart of our public life? What cultural, social and environmental treasure does Wales hold today which other areas of Britain have forgotten?

Coleridge in Wales Festival seeks to discover how Welsh culture already understands and embodies the deep and exciting cultural dimensions served by Coleridge, and those inspired by him. Wales can understand Coleridge in a unique way.

Modern Welsh identity
The Welsh Government works in partnership with many organisations to seek transformational opportunities for the well being of individuals, organisations and communities in Wales. It recognises that we face many challenges as Wales repositions its relationship to the rest of the UK and the wider world. Cultural regeneration is recognised as an essential part of this challenge. There are many searching for new vision and creative ideas. This takes courage and imagination. The Coleridge in Wales Festival seeks to contribute in a major way to the debate about values and qualities that make Wales distinctive in its public life.

The Welsh Government is also introducing legislation that addresses sustainability and Future Generations. The international movement for sustainability has recently championed the role of Culture as key in developing new, imaginative, healthy, fair and strong economies and communities. The Coleridge in Wales Festival 2106 is delighted to be in partnership with Cynnal Cymru/Sustain Wales and The Wales We Want to promote courageous thinking, relationships and cultural action for our future well-being.

The Coleridge in Wales Festival is not a backward-looking re-visit of 18th and 19th century historic romanticism. It is a contemporary exploration, with institutions and communities, of unexplored intellectual streams and daily culture that emphasise the importance relationship and place in our communities and economies. The importance of relationship and place still feature very strongly in popular Welsh culture. The Festival seeks to champion this, and highlight forgotten structures of relationship and place which have a dynamic and creative offer for modern institutions and society. Exploring Coleridge and Iolo Morganwg’s work can help modern Wales better understand itself and its potential today.

Why Wales?

Welsh Landscape & Coleridge

In Wales Coleridge began for the first time to engage passionately with the wildness of nature. The tour confirmed his career as an artist. Famous lines from Rime of the Ancient Mariner were inspired by climbing on a hot day the mountain Penmaenmawr in North Wales.  Caves and landscape in his great poem Kubla Khan are linked to Devil’s Bridge near Aberystwyth.


Iolo Morganwg and Coleridge
Coleridge and Iolo Morganwg shared a vision. This 2016 travelling festival explores the power of Coleridge’s thought in Wales, its relation to the life work of Iolo Morganwg, and its relevance for British and international society.

1794 - Poet genius Samuel Coleridge abandons university and walks across Wales dreaming of founding a new, fairer society. He settles in Bristol.

1795 - Welsh literary wizard Iolo Morganwg stops in Bristol on a disillusioned return from London, discovers Coleridge lecturing, and scribbles on a poster: “Coleridge, Coleridge, Coleridge, Coleridge”

Iolo Morganwg is the founder of the modern Eisteddfod, and greatly influences 19th century Welsh culture. Coleridge becomes one of the greatest British poets - yet much of his writing has been buried and ignored.  Both stress the importance of understanding European concepts of the distinction between REASON and UNDERSTANDING.


03R. S. Thomas, Coleridge & the imagination
Major 20th century Welsh poet R. S. Thomas saw Coleridge’s work as centrally important. Lecturing at the 1976 Eisteddfod on the power of myth, words, place and nature in Welsh identity, he said...

"In order to understand imagination’s true meaning one must be acquainted with the work of Coleridge,
but I haven’t time to go into that today"

Coleridge in Wales  2016 marks the 40th anniversary of R S. Thomas’s keynote address “Abercuawg” at the 1976 Eisteddfod.



David Jones and The Ancient Mariner
Leading British artist and modernist poet David Jones engaged deeply with Coleridge’s vision, illustrating The Rime of The Ancient Mariner and writing about the Brythonic depth of Coleridge’s vision.

Jones’s engravings of The Ancient Mariner reflect his understanding of

  •  Coleridge’s deep reach into the human imagination
  •  our capacities to wantonly destroy our environment
  •  and the potential of humanity to be a blessing to the world.

To coincide with the 2016 Festival the National Museum of Wales will display Jones’s engravings at the National Gallery in Cardiff.

“David Jones… identified so passionately with the idea of Wales, and of the importance of its language and culture to the shared experience of Britain over the last two thousand years.” - OLIVER FAIRCLOUGH, KEEPER OF ART, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WALES



Poets, Wales and tourism
The Coleridge in Wales Festival offers an unparalleled opportunity for heritage and international tourism.  Wordsworth’s walking tours of Wales are well documented and marked; also Shelley’s connection with the Elan Valley. We’ll be creating events, journeys and performance within a cultural legacy that can challenge, transform and celebrate modern Welsh life and its international resonance.

We’ll be highlighting Welsh connections to communities and culture all over the world, and exploring international poets with kindred voices alongside Iolo Morganwg and Coleridge.



A passion for Mary Evans
Coleridge was in love with Welsh girl, Mary Evans. Her family was from Wrexham and they met there, tantalizingly briefly, on his Welsh tour.  He wrote a love poem “The Sigh” to Mary, and her portrait hangs in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. The Festival will see the lovers re-united in Wrexham.



Iolo revisited
Iolo Morganwg 1747 -1826 (the bardic name of Edward Williams) is, though still a controversial figure, considered by many an ‘Architect of the Welsh Nation’ because of his contribution to theRomantic-era cultural renaissance. Through his visionary reinvention of Welsh medieval texts, and in his enduring ceremony The Gorsedd of the Bards, he championed Wales's reputation as a civil nation, and was the first to suggest that Wales should have its own national institutions: a library, an academy, a museum and a folk museum.

A stone-mason by trade, he was a self-taught polymath and his writings show the remarkable diversity of his interests: druidism, poetry, folk songs, antiquities, architecture, agriculture, geology, language and dialect, pedigrees, radicalism and the abolition of slavery.

Iolo Morganwg collaborated with Coleridge’s youthful conspirator, poet Robert Southey, and explored, like Coleridge, the difference between our capacities for ‘reason’ and ‘understanding’.

The Centre for Advanced Welsh Studies in Aberystwyth undertook a seven-year study of Iolo Morganwg in 2001 and they provide excellent online resources on his life and work.

"most people would think of Wales as a place and Coleridge a person; and what it seems you are doing, rather, is to treat Wales as person - and Coleridge as a place"


Ivor Davies


Who is Coleridge?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Devon in 1772. At the age of eight, on the death of his father, Coleridge was sent as an orphan to Christ’s Hospital School in London.  His precocious talent for language, thinking, oratory and culture was recognised and at the age of 19 he won a scholarship to study at Cambridge University. Inspired by the spirit of the French revolution he radically criticised what he saw as stale and moribund institutions of English society.  Coleridge dropped out of University and walked around Wales in 1794, for the first time engaging seriously with nature in his writing, and this tour confirmed his career as an artist.

He formed a close and detailed creative partnership with William Wordsworth, helping to fashion the philosophy that underpins Wordsworth’s successful and great early poetry (they were spied upon by the Home Office who thought that their poetry composing walks and nature notes were espionage for the French Military) and co-writing some of Wordsworth’s poetry. Coleridge’s own poems Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan take their place amongst the greatest in the English language.

His energy, genius, vision, enthusiasm, talkativeness, physical stamina and disposition for intermittent serious chaotic collapses made him an attractive but difficult collaborator, husband, father and public figure.  He infuriated and delighted family, friends, critics and the reading public. Former friends ended up attacking him bitterly, but he also inspired and returned life-long devoted friendships.

As well as being a brilliant poet, he worked with remarkable success in many areas...

Journalist: Coleridge wrote regular leading articles for a leading London newspaper and is responsible for the first psychological political portraits. Science: he was a friend and collaborator of pioneering chemist Humphrey Davy, who urged Coleridge to lecture on the relationship between arts and science at the Royal Institution. On his second tour of Wales Coleridge traveled with Tom Wedgwood who is credited with making some of the first photographs. Diplomat: Coleridge served in the administration of Malta and wrote a report supplied to Nelson. He wrote widely on the subject of leadership and mentored a younger generation of thinkers and writers. Travel writer: his journals and notebooks of Britain, Germany, Mediterranean and Italy illuminate his travels and thinking, and include one of the first descriptions in English of a christmas tree. Revolutionary and thinker: he inspires and enrages both radicals and the establishment by his learning, courage and articulation of a deep philosophic value system that challenged authority and yet set out the need for strong institutions that supported the potential of our full humanity. He fought for the abolition of slavery. Chaotic opium addict: given opiate medicine when young during a fever he became dependent on opium at a time when its addictive qualities were not recognised.  He came to understand this addiction and wrestled unsuccessfully to detoxify, suffering intense and long periods of illness, collapse and withdrawal. Visionary: During his lifetime Coleridge was continually criticized for announcing magnificent projects but never realizing them; but he outlined, often sporadically, remarkable foundations and he inspired and quietly directed many influential movements that followed him, exploring spirit, faith, community, imagination and social justice.  Many modern Bristish cultural experiences that we might take for granted today have their foundation in Coleridge’s life work. Poet: Rime of the Ancient Mariner :  The turning point at the centre of this great British poem The Rime of The Ancient Mariner is when, having mindlessly destroyed the Albatross and brought about the death of the ship’s crew, The Mariner is given the ability to bless the sea creatures. What does this deep and haunting poetic moment mean today for us and our relationship to the natural world? Poet:  Kubla Khan:  In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree...  What is the function of our aesthetic and creative capacities in the development of society? Coleridge had a vision of human culture in which our full humanity could flourish in individuals and communities, and this inspired campaigners who came after him. Where is that vision held and affirmed today? Our power of imagination: Coleridge articulated a theory of imagination grounded in deep European traditions of thought and practice.  His writing explores a journey that links and draws imagination into excursion, landscape and environment, which then asks questions about community, social justice and the nature of our humanity. Reason and Understanding:  Coleridge famously articulated for the readers of his day the difference between REASON and UNDERSTANDING.  At the same time Iolo Morganwg was promoting similar concepts of Rheswm a Deall in Welsh culture.  How does Welsh language and culture hold and embody this dimension today? What does it mean for modern societies that have forgotten or ignored these distinctions? Power of the fragment:  Coleridge’s personal and professional life was widely known to be chaotic.  He frequently claimed he would complete large scale projects and writings, only to leave brilliant fragments.  What are the small broken fragments of life that have this mysterious power of fresh creation and renewal, despite our destructive and chaotic tendencies? What is the appropriate cultural holding and celebration of them? Critic:  he was the founder of our modern understanding of Shakespeare’s psychological and dramatic greatness. Physical force:  Coleridge had a passionate, robust, physical approach to life, with a joyful appetite for company, exploring landscape and imagining a re-created society.

Coleridge was at the forefront of introducing the Romantic movement into Britain. It sought to throw off what it saw as straight-jacketed 18th century formal, universalist orthodoxy. Instead it affirmed humans as having unique and creative abilities to discover meaning and purpose in everyday experience and nature.


In his writing Coleridge gave warning to a rapidly industrialising English middle class that they were in danger of focusing exclusively on the material aspects of life.  He set out for the British public the European distinctions between REASON  and UNDERSTANDING  which point to a dimension of life in which imagination and the natural world play a pivotal role in our communal sense of identity, meaning, faith, spirit and vision of social justice.


Pragmatic and material elements of 18th and 19th century English culture still dominate much thinking today in the UK. Its influence is widespread not only in science but in arts, government, faith, employment practice and public thinking. Coleridge made a clarion call, claiming that pragmatic and material capacity needed to be married to strong purposive psychological elements of our imaginative, creative, aesthetic and social capacities.


He published Biographia Literaria in 1817 and Aids to Reflection in 1825. Bristol and the South West had been strong places of encouragement to him in his early career, and he lived in the Lake District for only a short period. In London he was never able to create the financial success his talents merited. On his final trip out he met with scientist Michael Faraday.  Coleridge died at Highgate in 1834, nursed by friends.

Relevance Today

A message from Robin Morrison - Chairman of Coleridge in Wales Ltd


I’m delighted that you are exploring the website of this remarkable and exciting project.

If Samuel Taylor Coleridge toured round Wales today what would he see and think?  What would he say about its future? How would he imagine its future in relation to the devolving nature of the UK and the challenges of the wider world? What ideas, thoughts and questions would he produce, stimulate and share?

He was a philosopher as well as a poet; an idealist as well as a romantic. He was liberal, yet stood for an underlying vision and principles. He believed in freedom, yet held to an overarching unity of all things, within which there was room for many different approaches. What are our vision and principles? What sense do we make of different kinds of diversity and what holds us together?

He belonged to his time and place, and travelled on the continent with an international outlook. We value place and people in a fast changing world. How do others see us? What can we and they offer each other? What really lasts?

The implications and connections are waiting to be discovered - If Coleridge looked around at the politics, organisations and communities of Wales, what sense of purpose would he discover? What questions would he ask; what views would he share about new directions across a range of economic, social, environmental and political challenges and choices?

Underneath all of this, what spirituality, values and beliefs hold organisations, issues and communities together? What really matters, to most people, most of the time?

Where are the Coleridges of today? Where are the poets and prophets, the people of creativity courage and imagination? In our Universities, schools, businesses, Government, media, churches, mosques and synagogues? What are they saying about our future?

We look forward to the journey, discovering this with you.

Robin Morrison

Sustainability, culture and our futures

The Coleridge in Wales Festival explores how culture, art and our imagination play an essential role in economy, social justice and our relation to environment.




In 1992 the Rio earth summit established three pillars for sustainability - economy, social inclusion and environment - but didn't include culture. Today there are world-wide calls for culture and our capacities to live together to be at the heart of work that builds sustainable, fair and open societies.

Wales is one of three countries internationally to be introducing Future Generations legislation, and Coleridge in Wales is a rallying call to communities, academics, environmentalists, education and institutions of public life to explore our untapped cultural and artistic potential to imagine and create new futures.


 "SustransCymru is delighted to support the Coleridge in Wales Festival 2016" 


“We see a vast potential in the articulated vision, as an innovative platform from which to meaningfully engage diverse populations in an exciting narrative about the environment and our relationship with it”

Jane Lorimer
Director, Sustrans Cymru

Sustainability Downloads and Links

UNESCO - recognizes that people are at the heart of sustainable development and that "holistic and integrated approaches” are needed.

Sustrans Cymru - works to promote walking, cycling and public transport as realistic alternatives to the car for everyday journeys.

The Wales We Want  - is an open conversation and an opportunity for everyone to have your say on the issues that matter, helping to shape the long-term vision for Wales and our future generations.

The Welsh Government’s Future Generations Bill - will set ambitious, long-term goals to reflect the Wales we want to see, both now and in the future. These are for a prosperous; resilient; healthier; more equal wales; with cohesive communities; and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.

Agenda 21 - culture - a unique global structure gathering together cities, organisations and networks on relationships between local cultural policies and sustainable development.

Culture Shift – How Artists are responding to Sustainability in Wales - research report commissioned by Arts Council Wales, managed by CynnalCymru, identifies key projects, initiatives, networks and organisations in an emerging arts ‘sector’.

Culture Shift

"Coleridge in Wales is an ambitious and exciting venture and one that has many opportunities to work across regions, communities and art forms. Coleridge has broad and deep appeal through Wales and beyond with the power to capture the imagination of people even if they know little or nothing of his work."



The Welsh Government's Commitment to Sustainability

"Sustainability lies at the heart of the Welsh Government’s agenda for Wales. It means healthy, productive people; vibrant, inclusive communities; a diverse and resilient environment and an advanced and innovative economy."

Rt. Hon. Carwyn James


Conferences & new learning platforms

We’re bringing traditional and innovative approaches to learning which explore new ideas, relationships and activity. These are local and international challenges.


Many people and organisations are already involved in these challenges, politically, socially, economically, culturally, and environmentally. We seek to be a refreshing voice in the diverse search for sustainable futures across different sectors and communities.


Significant learning can happen outside formal environments. We urgently need

  • deeper wisdom as well as more information,

  • relationships as well as data

  • imaginative creativity unleashing a spirit that fosters better understanding and communication.

Above all, we need the courage to risk gently practising creative ideas in business, government and communities.

Please get in touch if you can contribute or share a related topic.


Some emerging themes: Click here to download PDF

Who we are

Gillian Clarke
David Crystal
Kate Thomas
Jon Gower

Baroness Randerson
David Melding AM
Stephen Doughty MP

Creative Director
Richard Parry

Artistic Advisor to Creative Director
Ivor Davies

Robin Morrison
Chris Glynn
David Hann
Mary-Ann Constantine
Anne Rainsbury

Advisory Team
Prof. John Rogerson
Dr. Douglas Hedley
Prof. Jeff Wallace
Fiona Owen
Emma Evans
Sian Thomas
Fern Smith
Gerald Tyler
Richard Huw Morgan
Ani Saunders
Aaron Kirkhouse
Amelia Johnstone
Sarah Blowen
Carmen Casaliggi

Partners and supporters

Explore the journey with...





Many thanks to...

All Saints, Victoria Square, Penarth

Pipe & Piper

Mark Cox for the use of images of his paintings

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The festival will tour on the routes taken by Coleridge when he explored Wales.  Who we meet depends on you, your interest, your ideas and your participation.  This inspiring project has begun recruiting partners and  participants.
We'd love to hear from you.


Richard Parry
Creative Director, Coleridge In Wales Festival