This is not a virtual tour of Blake’s Cottage, all romantic interiors and drifting angels but a real tour of the cottage as it is now. If you have been working for the repair of the cottage, I urge you to study it carefully.
These pictures were taken on Thursday the 1st February 2018. The three men of the Blake Cottage Trust have now held the cottage in trust for the nation since the 21st of September 2015, in other words for two years and five months. Those of us who care about the place have been asking them repeatedly to start repairing it. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. Over 500 of us signed a petition urging that money should not be wasted on architects plans and drawings but spent to start work on repairing the cottage. The architects have been hired and paid. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE TO THE COTTAGE.
Now, as you will see from these pictures, it is in such a bad state that I wonder it hasn’t been condemned by a health and safety committee. More and more of the rafters have broken. Broken rafters and thatch have fallen into the upstairs bedrooms. The damp walls are covered in black mould. There is disquieting evidence of insect infestation.
This is a very serious state of affairs. If it is left to go on much longer the cottage will be condemned as dangerous and pulled down. And that is something that none of us who are concerned about it would want to see. So what is to be done?
As far as I can see there are only two organisations who can rescue it now. One is the Felpham Village Conservation Society which is local to the cottage, the other is the National Trust, which is wealthy enough to be able to afford the repair and which has the historical know-how for that repair.
One old woman can be pushed aside and people can be told that she is ‘against the cottage’ and can be ignored. One of the visitors to the cottage on Thursday afternoon told me as much to my face when I was talking to two friends about the deplorable state we were witnessing. But, a large local organisation pledged to preserve, protect, promote our local heritage could, if it worked together, and were to mount another petition this time to the National Trust asking them to take the cottage over and repair it, could do much more good than I could on my own. I will help them in any way I can.
The National Trust still seems to be believing all the fairy stories that they’ve been fed by Tim Heath. When I phoned them to book an appointment to see the cottage, they told me how there were plans for its restoration and urged me to look at architectural model of the building that Tim Heath dreams of erecting in the garden, which was also on display at Petworth House at the same time as the Blake Exhibition. I have said over and over again that everything Tim Heath says is a pipe-dream, that the BCT have no money for repairs, even though they managed to find £30,000 to pay the architects, now I will say as loud and clear as I can, that the cottage is no longer saleable. No potential buyer would touch it with a barge pole. It will cost several million pounds to repair it and that was being admitted by one of the BCT triumvirate present at the open afternoon.
Can we save it between us? Is there still time? What do you think?