Media reports in the UK indicate that a former home of the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770–1850) has been purchased by a Buddhist charity, which plans to renovate and transform the listed 18th century Alfoxton Park and grounds into a meditation retreat center.
Following renovation with respect to the site’s history and heritage, the planned retreat centre is to focus on hosting extended meditation retreats and land-based working retreats, as well as arts and creativity events. Reports indicate that the main house is expected to open for retreats from August next year.
“We are delighted to have been entrusted with the guardianship of this beautiful and historic building,” Dharmachari Lokabandhu, trustee of the Alfoxton Park Trust charity, was quoted as saying. “We are very aware of its importance and place in Britain’s literary heritage and fully intend to honor that going forward.” (BBC News)
The Grade II listed* Alfoxton Park, a country house set amid the picturesque Quantock Hills in the western English county of Somerset, includes outbuildings, a courtyard, a walled garden, and some 20 hectares of gardens and deer park. The estate was home to Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy from July 1797 to June 1798, and is where Wordsworth and theologian and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) penned their landmark poem collection Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems (1798), which among many notable works includes these lines from Wordsworth:
. . . that best portion of a good man’s life:
His little, nameless unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.
The house’s main library was also witness to the first reading of Coleridge’s renowned “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which also featured in Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death at the age of 80 in 1850.
The site was reported to have been sold for £2 million (US$2.6 million).
The historic grounds have been the site of a dwelling for centuries, with the Domesday Book survey record of 1086 recording the existence of The Manor of Alfoxton. The manor was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt out of rendered rubble stone on the same site in 1710. The property, which has lain empty for some years and fallen into disrepair, was most recently used as a country hotel.
“Once the building has been restored to at least something of its former glory, we’d love to welcome poets, pilgrims, and lovers of nature—many of whom already pass by as they walk the Coleridge Way, which runs right past our back door,” said Dharmachari Lokabandhu. (BBC News)
* Officially, a particularly important building of more than special interest.
Wordsworth’s Alfoxton Park home bought by Buddhist charity (BBC News)
William Wordsworth’s former Somerset home Alfoxton Park sold to Buddhist charity (County Gazette)
William Wordsworth’s former home to become Buddhist retreat after being sold off for £2m (BusinessLive)
William Wordsworth’s home near Bristol to be turned into Buddhist retreat (BristolLive)