William Blake’s cottage for sale

Felpham’s green and pleasant house, home to those feet in ancient times

The Blake Society is launching a crowd-funding campaign in September to raise money to buy the former country home of William Blake. The quaint Grade-II-listed thatched cottage at Felpham in Sussex has been on the market for £650,000. It is where Blake wrote the poem for the hymn “Jerusalem”, and Felpham is where he was arrested for sedition.

The current owner, Heather Howell, 89, has lived there for more than 30 years, but it has been in her late husband’s family since 1928. It has remained largely unchanged with the same beamed interiors and original doors – even the vegetable patch seen in Blake’s sketches.

When it came on the market last July, neither the English Heritage nor the National Trust stepped in to save it for the nation, as they have done for countless other important homes and buildings. But the Blake Society, which was terrified of an imminent sale, asked the owner to give them time to raise the money to buy it. Howell gave them until late October 2014 and knocked the price down to £520,000.

Speed is certainly of the essence as the Blake Society runs to the rescue to save the cottage in the next few months, aided by “the Blake seven”, a group of locals in Felpham and Bognor, who also want to raise money to help the campaign.

William Blake's illustration of his Grade-II-listed thatched cottage William Blake's illustration of his Grade-II-listed thatched cottage “The Blake Society has negotiated and signed a legally binding option to purchase the cottage,” says Tim Heath, chairman of the Blake Society. “The owner couldn’t find a buyer. The actual premium on the cottage due to the fact that Blake lived there is not much. There are structural problems in the roof which make it difficult for people to get a mortgage ,” says Heath.

The Blake Society aims to raise a third of the money before the crowd-funding campaign is launched, while the Blake seven, headed by Rachel Searle, an economics teacher in Felpham, will run a local festival called Golgonooza in September to boost the fund-raising effort. Searle, who founded the Big Blake Project, which includes the local Blake trail and poetry prize, met the current owner of the cottage who told her that she should get in touch with Heath and join forces to help buy the cottage “for the nation”.

Blake lived in nine houses in his life, all rented. This cottage is one of the last two of his remaining properties that have not been demolished. His former London house in Mayfair, in which the Blake Society occupies the top floor, has a waxing salon in the basement, and a shop.

“It would be a wonderful marriage between the city and the coast if we bought both houses,” says Heath ambitiously. “But the first step is to secure the cottage. It is far cheaper,” he explains.

The Blake Society intends to turn the cottage into “a centre of the imagination”, rather than a museum. It will also be a place artists and writers, “or people who are challenging the status quo”, he says, can go and stay for a few days. Other parts of the cottage will be set up to show how Blake did his work, with a printing press and equipment for engraving and etching.

“The cottage needs to be saved to give people across the world the opportunity to celebrate his work and this place of inspiration,”asserts Tim Heath

More information www.blakesociety.org; www.thebigblakeproject.org.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea