About Ottery St Mary

Ottery St Mary is a town and civil parish in the East Devon district of Devon, England. The town takes its name from the River Otter on which it stands. The River Otter was named after the Otters which many years ago were found on the river banks.

Ottery St Mary stands on the eastern side of the river Otter, from which it takes its name. Set in the midst of pleasent farm lands in a green valley some 12 miles east of the city of Exeter, it is one of the most historic towns in Devon, dating back to the Saxon times.

From its position on the rising hillside, spendid medieval church of St Mary dominates the town like an ever watchful and protective guardien. But no portrait of Ottery St Mary would be complete without some mention of the Bronze Age beginnings in this part of Devon.

Extract from the book 'Ottery St Mary' by John Whitham.
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Sonnet to the River Otter

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), who was born in Ottery St Mary, wrote this poem entitled Sonnet to the River Otter.

Dear native brook! wild streamlet to the West!
How many various-fated years have past,
What happy, and what mournful hours since last
I skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
Numbering its light leaps! yet so deep imprest
Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes
I never shut amid the sunny ray,
But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,
Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey,
And bedded sand that, veined with various dyes,
Gleamed through thy bright transparence! On my way,
Visions of childhood! oft have ye beguiled
Lone manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs:
Ah! that once more I were a careless child!