Felpham Blake’s Cottage restoration plans blasted as ‘pie in the sky’

Blake's Cottage in Felpham has been empty since being bought for �500,000 in September 2015
Blake's Cottage in Felpham has been empty since being bought for �500,000 in September 2015

A scathing attack has been launched at the trust which owns Blake’s Cottage by a renowned Felpham author.

Blake scholar Beryl Kingston labelled the Blake Cottage Trust’s £500,000 restoration plans ‘total rubbish’ and ‘pie in the sky’ .

She called on it to hand the historic Felpham property, William Blake’s home for three years, to the National Trust or English Heritage to be restored.

Beryl has organised a meeting for local people to discuss the plans for Blake’s Cottage this Saturday, July 16, at the Felpham Memorial Hall, from 7pm, all welcome.

As reported, the Blake Cottage Trust wants to attract £500,000 in grants to spend on the 17th century building.

The trust is considering knocking down the part of the cottage built in the 1970s, and building a new centre for the study of William Blake in its place.

See the proposals here

Ms Kingston said: “They have got their priorities completely the wrong way round. First they should restore the cottage to the beautiful building it once was and open it up to the public.

“They called the 1970s part a ‘footprint’ and an ‘eyesore’, which it isn’t. It’s a part of the building and could quite easily be used to sell cards, books and whatever else.”

Mrs Kingston also criticised the condition of the cottage.

“They have owned it for a year and yet nothing has been done while it deteriorates.

“The brickwork is crumbling, the rafters are broken and the thatch is bulging through the ceiling.”

Peter Johns, the trustee of the Blake’s Cottage Trust, stated ‘we only bought it in September’ but admitted: “Quite a lot of what they have said is factually correct.

“Some of the rafters have collapsed and we have had a structural engineer’s report that suggests steam beams.”

Due to the building being listed, permission has been sought from Arun. As for the 1970s section, Mr Johns said: ‘I don’t have an opinion as to whether it is good or bad’ and that it is ‘ultimately planning’s decision’ as to whether it is kept and refurbished or not.

The aim is to open to the public in spring 2018, but Mr Johns stressed the money is key to ensure the cottage can stand on its own two feet as visitor numbers aren’t expected to be high.

He said: “While a lot of people know Jerusalem, not that many people are interested in Blake as a person.”

A meeting for people to discuss the cottage’s future will be held on July 16, 7pm, at the Felpham Memorial Hall.

What do you think of the plans? Do you agree with Beryl, should the cottage be handed to another organisation?

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