Those of us who care about Blake’s Cottage, are facing a choice

To put this bluntly those of us who care about the future of our Blake’s Cottage are now facing a choice between two diametrically opposed points of view and two diametrically opposed choices.

  1. Is to concentrate all the funds that will be raised in the next year or so by the Blake Cottage Trust, which now consists of four men (of which later) on the restoration and repair of the cottage itself.
  2. Is to spend a large part of the funds raised on demolishing half the cottage and building a state of the art new building in the grounds. This has always been the favoured choice of Tim Heath – who is the Chairman of the Blake Cottage Trust and the Chairman of the Blake Society and is currently squatting in his mother’s house. He is now being aided and abetted by a new lieutenant called Jonathan Mullard who has been appointed a new trustee of the BCT and the secretary of the Blake Society and has the ear of the press both local and national. All of this is written about in my new booklet ‘If Blake’s Cottage had a voice, it would cry help!’

So as you can see, those of us who want the cottage restored, are up against formidable opposition. I have had two long and helpful conversations with a lady called Alma Howell who is an official of English Heritage, who have just put the cottage on their ‘at risk’ register. She reassured me that she and English Heritage will do everything they can to restore the cottage. I’ve also had a telephone conversation with Jonathan Mullard but that was like talking to a brick wall.

So now, what can we do if we want to preserve the cottage? Well for a start I definitely think we should NOT stay silent, but should make our voices heard in any way we can. Perhaps we should start with the biggest possible petition we can raise between us in the Felpham area. When I began my campaign to protect the cottage I gathered 500 signatures on my own but I am now no longer physically capable of doing it again. But to encourage us all, I now know that there are hundreds of people in Felpham Matters who want to preserve the cottage as a matter of priority and if one person can collect 500 signatures how many could 200 people collect. It’s worth a thought.

I could provide printed posters to put up in the local shops, pubs, tearooms and so forth and petition forms – each one with space for fifty names, which makes it easy to count the number you’ve collected – and help in any housebound ways you can think of and use such contacts as I have with the local and national press. But I also think that the handing over of this petition should be a very public occasion with as many people as possible who have signed it present to see it done, possible holding placards saying ‘Save our Cottage’ which is a nice simple slogan for viewers to respond to, and we should get the press to record it and with a bit of pressure, local TV to film it. These things are possible.

So all is not lost all you lovely supporters but it’s going to take work to do it. In the meantime I will do what I can to find out as much as I can about this new trustee.

Now it’s up to all of us. Strength to our arms.

7 thoughts on “Those of us who care about Blake’s Cottage, are facing a choice

  1. I would happily sign the petition but I am now living in Lincolnshire. If I am eligible I will happily put my name to an online petition? I wish you lots of luck with this; let’s hope we can save it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Beryl,

    The situation is, as you so clearly describe it, critical. I have a couple of questions for you: 1. Do you know what the Blake Cottage Trust and Blake Society mean when they suggest demolishing half of the cottage? 2. Are they referring ONLY to the modern extension on what is now the back of the house? Or some of the cottage actually depicted by Blake himself?

    This seems essential to understand so we can be certain of the grounds on which we are objecting.

    Also, I wonder if you have connections with Blake Societies in America? Could they be inspired with a vision for salvaging the cottage? After all, it took an American, Sam Wanamaker, to have the vision and commitment to explore, dig (literally) and build the reconstructed wonder that is Shakespeare’s Globe – infusing much of the Southbank development with a sense of enthusiasm and respect for discovery of its past as well as its future.

    Keep up the fight Beryl … you’re doing a valuable job for posterity. And I trust your sword will never sleep in your hand!

    Love and respec’ always

    Christine

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  3. Hi Beryl
    One possibility would be to set up an online petition on http://www.change.org and put a link to that on any printed matter that goes out. You can reach a wider audience that way including overseas people with a connection to England. My mother would definitely sign, she was born in Tenterden, Kent so not that far away; she lives in New Zealand now and has for decades, but still feels English. We both hate to see history being destroyed too, whether by this sort of inaction or deliberate action; we lost too much in Christchurch as a result of the 2011 earthquake and more to the inaction of owners (some of it likely deliberate) and insurers. Our history is relatively young, nothing from as far back as Blake’s Cottage aside from some Maori ruins, mostly Pa (fortified villages).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done Beryl! We need the press indeed. Mr Mullard has just informed me that they have issued a new press release. We have to remind the press that there are other voices that need to be listened to in this matter: those of us who oppose what the Blake Cottage Trust has been doing, or rather not doing, for the past six years, and their utter unaccountability.

    As for Christine’s question, the plans as stated so far are to demolish the modern addition to the cottage, then build a state of the art visitor centre on the garden.

    I will post something new in my blog as well. Let’s keep moving!

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