Tim Heath, Chair of the Blake Society, writes:
“We are delighted to announce that yesterday (sic), 21 September 2015, the sale of Blake’s Cottage was completed by the lawyers and the building is now held in trust for the nation in perpetuity.
Our thanks to everyone in the Blake community who have given their work, time and savings to the project. Over half a million pounds was raised, a new charitable trust set up, and for the very first time there is now a home for William Blake.
The story began long ago on a summers day in 1993 when I was having tea in the garden of the Cottage with Heather Howell, whose family had owned the building since 1928. Our talk turned to the future of the Cottage and how her wish was that one day her home should go into trust for all those who are inspired by Blake.
It took twenty two years.
As you may imagine, the process of raising over half a million pounds from the Blake community – many of whom eschew money – would never be easy. Many doubted it could ever be achieved, but with the individual gifts of many hundreds of donors and the extraordinary generosity of one anonymous trust, the Cottage has been purchased.
William Blake lived in nine houses during his lifetime and only two survive – the house at 17 South Molton Street in London and the cottage in Felpham on the Sussex coast. The Cottage is where Blake wrote the poem ‘And Did Those Feet …’ while he was awaiting his trial for Treason, and so there is a special irony in how this radical poem Jerusalem has become a national anthem, a hymn to dissent and a song that challenges both the Singer and the State.Mr Blake thanks you. And Allen, of course, would be cheered by this news too, and grateful for the preservation.