Nestled within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ottery St Mary is a delightful town full of unique traditions. How much do you know about our fantastic town? We’ve got five facts that you may not know…
Did you know that Ottery St Mary is the birthplace of Samuel Taylor Coleridge? A famous English Poet and co-founder of the Romantic Movement, Coleridge was the son of Reverend John Coleridge, the respected Vicar of St Mary’s Church. Coleridge was born in 1772 and lived in the town until his father’s death in 1781.
Ottery St Mary has another literary connection and the name may seem familiar among Harry Potter readers. The town is thought to be the inspiration behind the fictional home of the Weasley family! JK Rowling attended Exeter University nearby.
Pixie Day is an annual event taking place in June which shouldn’t be missed. Reenacting the old legend, children dress as pixies and capture the town’s bell-ringers and hide them in their ‘cave’.
Ottery St Mary is also home to the iconic Tar Barrel Rolling. Taking place each year around November 5th, the event started as rolling flaming barrels along the street, however this was deemed too tame and instead the barrels are carried on your shoulders. Ottery is one of the only West Country towns and villages to keep up with the tradition of the annual torchlight procession.
Another Ottery St Mary tradition is the daily playing of the Old Ottery Song! Played at 8, midday & 4, the Church of Ottery St Mary plays the song after the church bells. Why not learn the words for yourself?
‘Sweet-breathing kine, / The old grey Church, / The curfew tolling slow, / The glory of the Western Sky, / The warm red earth below. // O! Ottery dear! O! Ottery fair! My heart goes out to thee, Thou art my home, wher'er I roam, The West! The West for me!’