Coleridge and Moreton House

Moreton House in 1983

Coleridge came to Moreton House, 14 South Grove, in April 1916 in the hope of breaking his opium habit. Mr. Gillman, surgeon, who resided there had been initially hesitant about receiving a lodger, but at his interview Coleridge cast the spell all Coleridgeans know only too well. Famously, Coleridge arrived three evenings later, clutching the proof-sheets of Christabel. Christabel, Kubla Khan, and The Pains of Sleep were published shortly after.

From the very beginning of his stay in Highgate, a long stream of visitors wended their way up Highgate Hill to see Coleridge, and to hear his extraordinary talk, a prophet for younger men. Among the older and more famous, Charles Lamb and William Wordsworth visited Moreton House.

“Coleridge sat on the brow of Highgate Hill in those years looking down on London and its smoke tumult, like a sage escaped from the inanity of life’s battle” (Thomas Carlyle)

By December 1823, seven years after he had moved in to Moreton House, and no doubt partly because of the growing number of visitors, Coleridge and the Gillman household moved to No 3 The Grove, a larger house than Moreton. Coleridge had only come for a month; he’d stayed on, and then the Gillmans had to move to a bigger house because of him! And there he stayed until his death in 1834. (Ann Viall)

Photo credit: From the Archive of the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution