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.
- People can visit the cottage on open days. (Well that’s nice of them!)
- 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?)
- 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.
I’m ashamed to say that I had no idea that Blake lived in Felpham. I was born, bred and educated near Petworth and never heard a whisper about the great man’s time there. All power to the campaign’s elbow…
Many, many thanks for your support Arabella. This campaign is making new friends for me. Thank you WB.
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Reblogged this on Freemagination and commented:
If you’re looking for a role model in the art of imagination, William Blake must be up there with the greatest. Extraordinary vision… and now I discover (very late) that he lived a few miles from where I was born, bred and educated. While I was learning Tyger, Tyger, I had no idea he was my neighbour (albeit a few hundred years adrift)…