Historic home of Jerusalem poet near Bognor Regis goes on the at risk register

The 17th century grade II* listed home of the poet, artist and visionary William Blake in Felpham has been placed on the Heritage at Risk Register for 2021.

Blake’s Cottage is one of 35 sites added to the register, published today (Thursday) due to concerns about their condition and the risk of them being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

The thatched brick and flint cottage was the home of William Blake and his wife Catherine from 1800-1803, and where he wrote the poem that became the famous hymn ‘Jerusalem’.

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Historic England said: “In recent years the cottage was purchased by The Blake Cottage Trust who placed it into trust for the nation in 2015 and are now launching a fundraising appeal to restore the building.

Tim Heath, chair of the Blake Cottage Trust, speaking to a visitor in the garden in July this year

“The Trust applied to Historic England to put it on the Register due to the decay and failure of part of the thatch, roof structure and supporting masonry.”

Secretary of the Trust, Jonathan Mullard said: “We are very grateful for the support of Historic England.

“The Trust aims to renovate the cottage, with sympathy and imagination, in time for the 200th anniversary of the death of William Blake in 2027. Fundraising and renovation can be challenging but as Blake himself wrote: ‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time.”

Mr Mullard, one of four trustees, said they had used the opportunity to launch a fundraising bid, initially for £8,000 for a conservation report. Then the trust plans to make bids for funding for the work itself.

View of side elevation of Blake's Cottage from west

They are also looking for more trustees to widen the expertise they have on board.

To find out more go to https://blakecottage.org/ and to apply to be a trustee go to https://www.charityjob.co.uk/volunteer-jobs/blake-cottage-trust/trustees/782628

From 2020-21, Historic England awarded £1.23m in grant funding to 23 South East sites on the Register.

The register is the yearly health-check of England’s most valued historic places.

First floor bedroom of Blake's Cotttage

Over the past year in the South East, 20 sites were removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.

Many have been saved thanks to the hard work and dedication of communities, which have come together to rescue places despite the challenges wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.

Charities, owners, councils and Historic England have also worked together to see historic places restored, re-used and brought back to life.

From 2020-21, Historic England awarded £1.23 million in grant funding to 23 South East sites on the Register (including conservation areas).

View of stairs and the beams of the internal timber frame of Blake's Cottage

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I’m delighted that so many famous landmarks have been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2021.

“We’ve supported the sector throughout the pandemic with our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund and it is great news to see this investment, along with other financial support, having such a positive impact.

“Heritage helps us understand our past and bringing old buildings and sites back into public use helps us to level up communities, create growth and protect these important assets for future generations.”

Emily Gee, regional director for Historic England in London and the South East, said: “The variety of South East places coming off and going onto the Heritage at Risk Register shows that our region’s heritage sites still need our help and support.

“From the wreck of the Restoration off Goodwin Sands to the Cock Pitt Cafe at Eton, the Register highlights special places in need of love, and gives us an opportunity to celebrate those which we have saved together.”

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