Archive | October 2016

Necessary facts and figures from a growling dog.

Good morning to all my followers. It’s that dreadful old political dog again and this time with facts and figures, all of them in the public domain, either on blog sites or in the local and national press or in a public
statement of accounts, so that you can check them all. (Incidentally, where you discover that articles in the local newspaper have been blocked, just get in touch with me. I have copies of the originals.) I’ve been asked for evidence to support what I said in my last blog, and quite right too. You need to know I’m not making it all up. So here goes.

1) For a start it must be established so that all of you know it that the Blake Cottage Trust does not own the cottage. It holds it in trust for the nation.

Blake Society website –

We are delighted to announce that on 21 September 2015, the sale of Blake’s Cottage was completed and the building was transferred into trust to be held for the nation in perpetuity.

The Guardian –

Blake’s house in Felpham, where he lived between 1800 and 1803 and penned the words to the hymn Jerusalem, has been bought for public use by the Blake Society.

2) The BCT has no money for repairs. Mr Johns admitted this to me on Monday 17th October. It is borne out by the current statement of accounts published by the charities commission. You will notice that after paying for the cottage the BCT had £1,462 in the bank.

The Blake Cottage Trust admitted it too:

Click to access Blake-Cottage-Trust-Report-and-Accounts-signed-2015.pdf

With considerable assistance from the Blake Society the trust succeeded in raising £479,419 which together with a loan of £19,250 was enough to purchase Blake’s Cottage and put it into trust for the nation. At the year end the Trust had cash in hand of £1,462. Fund raising activities are continuing in earnest to fund the restoration of the cottage, and to create a visitor/research/educational centre on the site.

There should be and was a report of this year’s accounts but they seem to have disappeared. Tim Heath’s brothers would certainly have seen it and might well have taken a copy. I will ask them.

3) Since the cottage was bought, there have been several reports in the local press about funds being sought and hoped for, this one in the Chichester Observer was blocked out almost immediately after I took a copy of it this morning. Well, well! But do notice, all of this was in June and nothing has been done since.

Friday 17th June 2016 – Chichester Observer –

Blake’s Cottage in Felpham is to be fully restored after a £500,000 investment was pledged this week.

Mr Johns said the trust hoped to have permission to carry out urgent repair work to the roof within days.

4) From time to time, the BCT website has got excited about their plans, but you will notice that they are no longer talking about holding the property in trust for the nation but about only allowing the public in on open days.

Blake Cottage Trust website-

The public will have 3 forms of access:  Firstly, People can visit the Cottage on open days. Secondly, invited guests can stay and sleep in the Cottage over a short weekend or a longer week.  And thirdly, they can elect to become Friends of the Cottage and thereby receive the gifts that will be made by the resident artists (writers, musicians, painters, printmakers, &c) who will find refuge or respite in the Cottage.

The new building will be multifunctional, having a secure space for small but important exhibitions, space for conferences, alternate space for a second residence, as well as office and administrative space.

I panned all these plans calling them ‘pie in the sky’ in article published by the Bognor Observer. But guess what! That’s been blacked out on the internet too. It makes this old dog smell a rat. Hence this poster cum ad. I hope it will appear in the local papers. I have already been told what it will cost but the local observer warned me that ‘we cant print situations that are libellous –  also we wont be able to print words of criticism or claims about the trust.’ Hence this blog.

Please spread the word about my meeting, especially if you live in Felpham and belong to the Felpham Village Preservation Society. The cottage needs your help.

If you haven’t already signed it please sign the petition and bring it to the attention of as many people as you can. I am beginning to feel I am being deliberately silenced. If I really were a dog I would be running about with that rat in my mouth worrying it to death. Take heart our William. We will look after your cottage.

Beware of the dog!

This one is for twitter friends, Facebook friends, friends old and new, fans and followers and it’s a dire and dreadful warning. You must beware of me. Take heed. I am, it appears (shock horror) political!

I can hear you laughing. What on earth am I talking about? Well apparently it is a political action to stand up on my rather rickety 85 year old legs and organise a petition to ask that Blake’s – now decaying – cottage should be repaired. People in the village are being told not to join me or to sign my petition because it would be too political to do it. When that was first said to me, I have to say I laughed because it was so ridiculous. Now it is coming at me so often and it feels so deliberate, that I am beginning to think somebody out there wants me to keep quiet and go away. Well I’ve got news for you, whoever you are I’m not going to do either. But even as I write this I remember that one of the Big Blake Project members was required to promise the leader of the Arun District Council not to do or say anything publicly about Blake’s Cottage. And that gives me pause for thought.

So let me say here and now and very clearly that there is nothing in the least bit political about asking for the cottage where Blake lived and worked for three years to be repaired and opened to the public. It is the most historic house left standing in Felpham village and Blake was one of our foremost poets. We owe it to him to keep his cottage standing.

Therefore I’m using this blog to tell you that I am going to hold a meeting in Felpham Memorial Hall on Saturday 12th November at 7pm. Where I hope to show you recent photographs taken inside the cottage. I would like you to see for yourselves what a parlous state the place is in. Entrance to the meeting will be free, and I can guarantee that nobody will pass a begging bowl around. If you live in or near the village and care about Blake and his cottage, especially if you belong to the Felpham Village Conservation Society whose very reason for existence is their avowed aim to

I hope as many of you as possible will join me at the Felpham Memorial Hall and not feel that you have got to beware of this particular old dog.

On a personal note, I have to admit that I find this opposition disquieting as well as unnecessary but I’m taking comfort from a quotation by Winston Churchill. ‘You have enemies?’ he once said. ‘Good. That means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.’ 



This entry was posted on October 25, 2016. 13 Comments

Blake’s Cottage – local action

‘The time has come (to quote the old slogan) for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the party.’

We now know that the Blake Cottage Trust has no money to repair the cottage. We also know because it’s there on their website, that Tim Heath, who is the key member of the triumvirate and the chairman of the Blake Society, is still dreaming of pulling down half the cottage to erect his magnificent half a million pounds, ‘new multi functional building that will be an architectural jewel in its own right and will draw people to the village of Felpham just to see it.’  

He tells us quite a lot about this building on the BCT website on ‘The Cottage’ page.

He also says that he is going to allow ‘the public’ to have ‘three forms of access.’ 

1)  They can visit the cottage on open days.

2) Invited guests can sleep in the cottage over a short weekend or a longer week.

3) They can elect to become Friends of the Cottage and thereby receive the gifts that will be made by resident artists who will find refuge or respite in the Cottage.

He’s forgotten that he does not own the cottage, and never has, but ‘holds it in trust for the benefit of the nation’. 

It seems to me that his present position needs challenging. It is a folly to allow one man to treat this property as if it were his personal fiefdom and to talk about the people who live in our nation, for whom the building is actually held in trust, as if we were all mere plebs in his kingdom, who can be allowed into the cottage when he says so and rewarded with artistic efforts that we probably wouldn’t want in the least. I know if I’m going to buy a book of poetry or a painting I would examine it very closely beforehand and wouldn’t buy it unless it appealed to me strongly. I wouldn’t take rubbish as a gift!

So what now?

I’m going to organise another public meeting for anyone in the village who is concerned about the cottage and wants to see pictures that will show them exactly what state it’s in and hear the very latest on what is planned for it. Posters are being designed, I shall run advertisements in the local press and I’ve already sent out a general invitation to the Felpham Parish Council and the Felpham Village Preservation Society.

Bring me my spear, oh clouds unfold / Bring me my chariot of fire. As our dear Blake said.





This entry was posted on October 20, 2016. 7 Comments

The tyranny of the birds

My grand-daughter Charlotte, who is my PA and amanuensis, is a devoted bird watcher as I am, but my word don’t the birds in my garden know it! Beautiful they might be and often very tuneful but they’re a gang of feathered bullies and we live in thrall to their appetites. There is nothing to equal a squabble of starlings who are all convinced they are half starved and insist on another suet cake – now, this minute, or else! We are constantly rushing to the shops instead of getting on with our work on the latest novel, to replenish stocks and the minute they’re hung on the tree they all descend in a shrieking pack to push for the first mouthful. Sometimes they push so hard that they knock one another out of the trees. Nature’s clowns, our starlings.

The blackbirds are far more decorous, except when they’re fighting one another and that can get quite nasty. But they come to the bird table politely and stamp on the lawns to encourage the earthworms to emerge as delicately as if they were dancing. Great favourites of ours the blackbirds.

The goldfinches and blue tits have another technique for making us feel guilty at their deplenished state. They perch delicately on the bird tables, pick at the limited seeds that are all they’ve got left and gaze pathetically through the french windows, like starving orphans. So naturally we have to go rushing off to the shops again.

And then there are the pigeons, hordes and hordes of them. They look baffled when they perch on our slender lilacs and fruit trees in an attempt to get at the feeders because it always ends with them falling out of the trees. Then they’re reduced to lurking underneath the feeders in the vain hope that one of the smaller birds will spill some seed in their direction. Vain because although plenty of seed is spilt, the starlings have it in seconds. 

Our politest and shyest visitor is a green woodpecker who comes far too rarely to stab his long beak into the grass and look at us timidly. He makes no demands on us at all.

And of course there is always the robin, who is a family friend and knows it. All hail to all you ‘blithe spirits’. What would our garden be without you?


This entry was posted on October 13, 2016. 2 Comments

Blake’s Cottage – very latest


Sorry to come back at you on Blake’s Cottage for the 2nd time in two days – I’ll put a fun blog up later I promise! – but this needs to be said and said quickly.

Several people have contacted me about my last blog feeling despondent and saying ‘if they haven’t any money, there’s no point in signing the petition.’ This is to try to convince them and others who might be thinking in the same way that the petition is in fact even more necessary and pressing now then it ever was. If we just sit back and do nothing, the triumvirate will go on dreaming about the money that they truly believe they will eventually be given and nothing will be done at all for years. That’s sad to say, but it’s true and the eventual outcome of this shilly-shallying will be that the cottage will degenerate so far that it will either be pulled down or collapse.

What we need now is massive pressure from as many people as we can persuade to sign the petition and make it grow. The more signatures we get, the nearer the time will come when a) the press and television take notice of what we’re asking, b) the matter becomes public and c) the triumvirate will be under such heavy pressure that they will finally have to admit that they don’t have the money to do anything to the cottage beyond prop it up with steel supports and that they will, however reluctantly, have to hand it over to the National Trust or English Heritage. That is the obvious and inevitable result of the situation they are in and the sooner we achieve it, the better.

So strength to all our signing hands and urging voices. We’re with you Mr Blake. We won’t let your cottage rot.

And to anyone in Felpham who hasn’t signed yet, please take heart and find that petition form and put your name to it. When William Blake was on trial for sedition, it was the villagers of Felpham who turned up at the courthouse in Chichester and perjured themselves to get him off. We have good antecedents.

Blake’s Cottage the truth.

Yesterday I went to Blake’s cottage having been told that the Blake Cottage Trust (BCT) had hired a firm to erect steel supports there to stop the roof falling down. For the first time in months the gate was open, so I walked in. And sure enough, workmen were there, already putting the supports in place, and who should I find standing among them but Peter Johns, one of the triumvirate. I congratulated him for getting this work underway at last and asked him when the repairs were going to begin. After hesitating a little, he told me that the repairs cannot start because the BCT haven’t any money. I have to say I admire his courage in admitting to the truth like that at last and asked him to write it all down for me and send it to me via the blog which he did, and this is what he said. I’m quoting verbatim:

“At long last we have been able to raise just enough money to put in the steel supports to save the roof and stabilize the walls. I hope to have some photos of the work on our website (www. by Wednesday. But as you say this is only just the beginning. We urgently need donations…” 

Sadly, I find it hard to believe that they will be able to raise the sort of money they need. I hope you’ll forgive me if I quote a few figures at you but it will show you why I believe as I do.

The cottage was bought in 2015 for £495,000. £400,000 of that total came from a donation from a charity set up by a man called Basil Larsen who ran a company called Bison Concrete, and made a fortune. He died in 2013 and after bequests to his friends – he had no children – left £25 million to be “handed over to good causes”.

Take that fortuitous donation from the total and you will see that only £95,000 of the price was raised from donations and a very large part of that came from the monies raised in Felpham by The Big Blake Project. Or to put that another way Tim Heath and the Blake Society actually raised very little of the money needed. And yet he is still talking as though raising money was going to be possible. It never has been and it certainly isn’t now. It will take them many years to even begin to gather all the money they need and by then the cottage will be in such a bad state of repair that it could well be demolished.

Now take a look at this extract from the BCT’s Annual report and accounts for 2015, which I have just seen. Their financial situation is even worse than I thought, in addition to everything else they now have a considerable loan to be re-payed.

With considerable assistance from the Blake Society the trust succeeded in raising £479,419 which together with a loan of £19,250 was enough to purchase Blake’s Cottage and put it into trust for the nation. At the year end the Trust had cash in hand of £1,462. Fund raising activities are continuing in earnest to fund the restoration of the cottage, and to create a visitor/research/educational centre on the site.

So please, please, please continue to sign our petition and urge as many others to sign it as you can. We need to make it quite clear both to the BCT and the world at large that we want our Blake’s Cottage repaired and preserved. It is too important to be left to rot.

You can do it via this link:

or if you live in the village, anywhere where you see this poster.

We are already hundreds strong and growing but we need to be
in our thousands to really have an impact.

Now even at the risk of boring you to tears I have a further quotation from Peter Johns comment on my blog site that I think you ought to see. He tells me they still intend to employ and architect to draw up plans for this new half a million pound building that they want to erect in the grounds. They were originally intending to pay an architect £50,000 as I’ve told you in other blogs. Now he says: “The architect has agreed to do the work at cost but even so we will need nearly £30,000 just for that without counting the ongoing maintenance, insurance etc.” 

(So £50,000 has been dropped to £30,000, and that’s where they got the money from to install the supports).

He doesn’t mention the new building but seems to imply that these costly plans are for the restoration of the cottage and will have a special use. “We can than submit to the big charities (HLF, Sainsbury’s etc). Only once we have this plan will the charities take us seriously.”

All this seems rather odd to me but that is what he said.

Meantime our petition is motoring and I shall continue with it until the triumvirate make a public statement that they cannot afford to repair the cottage – as they will have to do sooner or later. We cannot let them just drift on and on for years and years, hoping like three Mr Micawbers that something will turn up. They must keep us informed, admit in public that they cannot afford the repairs and let us know when they are finally handing the cottage over to one or the other of the two big organisations who can afford to repair it and will know how to handle it.

I shall keep you all informed as to what is going on on my blog at regular intervals.

Onward and upward.

Blake’s Cottage, a bit of good news – at last.

It’s not quite time to cheer, that will come when the cottage has finally been repaired, and restored to the condition it was in when Blake lived there and is up and running, so that any member of the public here in Great Britain or anywhere else in the world can come to Felpham and see it for themselves. But between us, the several wonderful hundred who have signed the petition either in the village or online to urge that action be taken, have won a first, small victory. It’s all happened a lot quicker than even I could have hoped and it certainly shows the power of social media. I only put the petition online a week ago. Thank you, thank you, thank you, all of you. You can stick a feather in your cap. I know we are going to prevail and cheer eventually.

So what’s the good news? I heard yesterday from a reliable source that the builders will be coming in to Blake’s Cottage on Monday as ever is. Sadly, they’re not coming to start the repairs, but simply to put up a steel support to keep the rafters in place and prevent them falling down. It’s a small first step but a welcome one. You see William, we’re looking after your cottage.

Now we need to keep up the pressure so that this will be followed by the much needed major repairs. Many of the rafters are in a very bad way and need replacing, the ceilings are bulging into the rooms and need repair, the cottage needs a new thatch as soon as the thatcher can be booked. If the triumvirate had meant business they should have booked a thatcher as soon as they took over the property. But I don’t think they did.

So please, you wonderful supporters, keep applying the pressure and keep up the good work. Urge your friends, your workmates, anyone you know to be an admirer of Blake and the sort of person who wouldn’t want to see his cottage decaying any further, to sign our petition. You can do it either online at:

or in any shop, pub, cafe in Felpham Village that is displaying our poster.

And do follow this blog for the latest news as it comes in. I shall visit the cottage on Monday afternoon to check exactly what is happening there and to take new petition forms in to all the places where they’re being signed and I’ll blog about it, whatever the news is, first thing Tuesday morning.

Blake’s Cottage – now we know.

We’ve been waiting for ages for one of the triumvirate to tell us when they are going to start repairing Blake’s Cottage. Nothing has been done and it’s now over a year since they bought the place. So I was very glad to hear that the Blake Cottage Trust had a website where they were going to keep us informed. And I visited it. I was seriously disappointed.

There wasn’t a word about repairing the cottage, not one single word, although it gave us a list of the ‘three forms of access’ there would be to it, presumably at some time in the future. I thought you would like to know what they are.

  1. People can visit the cottage on open days. (Well that’s nice of them!)
  2. Invited guests can stay and sleep in the cottage for a weekend or a week. (I wonder who they will be and who will choose them?)
  3. People can elect to become Friends of the Cottage and receive gifts from resident artists who will find refuge in the cottage. (There’s generous!)

In other words we are right back to the things Tim Heath was saying when the Blake Cottage Trust first took over. How foolish we were when we’d worked hard to raise the funds to buy the cottage to have thought that it would belong ‘to the nation’. That was what was said, very widely, when the funds were being gathered. But it’s not being said by the triumvirate now.

All this is bad enough, but the website gives us even more alarming information as it continues. For it turns to consider what it calls ‘The House’. And says ‘The House will have a small space for exhibitions or conferences, space for a SECOND RESIDENCE plus office and administrative space.’ 

The meaning of this is not at all clear because it all hinges on what Tim Heath who has written the website means by ‘The House’. It could mean the half a million pound new building that the Blake Cottage Trust are so keen to put up in the garden of Blake’s Cottage. And if that’s what they mean, I’m quite sure they will find a lot of people strongly opposed to it. For a start we’ll want to know who’s going to live there.

On the other hand, there is another meaning for ‘The House’ and that’s even worse. One of the trustees of the Blake Society, tells me that that is what Tim Heath has always called the flat at 7 South Moulton Street in London where Blake and his wife lived after they left Felpham and which is now occupied by the Blake Society. Does the Blake Cottage Trust intend to spend the money that was raised to repair and maintain Blake’s Cottage in Felpham on that other flat in London? And if they do, are they within their rights to do it?

And when, oh when, are they going to repair and restore our Blake’s Cottage? I have to say I’m beginning to feel extremely angry about the whole business and I hope you are too. The petition I started last month is now doing very well in the village with several hundred signatures. If you live locally and want to sign it you will find it at the Post Office, in most of the village pubs, in the Boathouse and in several shops and cafes. The more of you who sign the more pressure we will put on these tardy gentlemen.

It is also on the internet, as several people have asked me to put it there. You will find it at:

Please sign it and encourage your friends to sign it too. We cannot let these three careless men get away with ignoring our Blake’s Cottage.


This entry was posted on October 5, 2016. 3 Comments