New plea to help save William Blake's cottage in Sussex

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The 17th-century thatched cottage in Sussex where the visionary poet and painter William Blake wrote the words to Jerusalem, is at risk of being lost because of decay, Historic England has said.

Blake and his wife Catherine lived in the brick and flint cottage in Felpham, West Sussex, from 1800 to 1803. His poem, referring to England’s “green and pleasant land” as well as its “dark satanic mills”, was later set to music by Charles Hubert Parry. In his short time there he was also cleared at Chichester assizes of assaulting a solider and uttering seditious expressions against the king.

In a letter dated 21 September 1800, Blake wrote: “Felpham is a sweet place for Study, because it is more spiritual than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden Gates; her windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of Celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard, & their forms more distinctly seen.”

Blake was a committed Christian who was nevertheless hostile to almost all forms of organised religion; he was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, but later disowned many of his earlier political beliefs; he was critical of the marriage laws of his day, and more generally of traditional Christian notions of chastity as a virtue.

The Grade II* listed house bought by the Blake Cottage Trust for £500,000 in 2015 needs urgent repairs to the thatch, roof structure and supporting masonry. The trust also hopes to build a new annexe for exhibitions about the poet and artist. The building was placed into trust for the nation in 2015, and a fundraising appeal has been launched.

On their website the trustees say: “Our initial intent is to remove the later extensions to the cottage and bring it back to a state that William and Catherine Blake would have recognised when they lived and worked their between 1800 and 1803. In the liberated space we hope to build a new multifunctional building that will be an architectural jewel in its own right and will draw people to the village of Felpham just to see it.”

You can donate to the restoration of Blake’s Cottage by following this link.

 

ILLUSTRATION: BLAKE COTTAGE TRUST 

 

◄ Call and Response: collated by Amanda Bonnick, Black Pear Press

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