Blake’s Cottage, rotting away under the Blake Cottage Trust

In the “New Concerns Over Cottage” note that appeared in The Bognor Regis Post on 20 February, Peter Johns, Treasurer of The Blake Cottage Trust, and responsible for the financial reports about Blake’s cottage that show a worrying degree of contempt for truth, is quoted saying that  now that the architects’ plans for the projected visitor centre have been finalised, “we can go to potential funders to show them that this is a real project and that is what we intend to do”.
          That is an extraordinary thing to say. The Blake Cottage Trust has had since September 2015 to show not only to potential funders, but to the public, that theirs is a real project, and they have failed miserably. What they  have achieved is rather to allow the cottage to go into an appalling state of further disrepair. Visitors during their open days coinciding with the Petworth exhibition could see by themselves the cottage’s heartbreaking state of ruin and decay.
        I have given a timeline earlier in this blog about the Blake Cottage Trust’s actions and, mostly, inaction during these past years. In fact, for around a year since the purchase of the cottage they didn’t even deign to communicate to the public at all what their plans for the building were. I find it a bit too late for them to try to show that theirs is a real project, two years and five months after the purchase, and with the building in such a dire state.
       We do know that they never honoured what was promised to the public during the 2014 campaign:  that a large consortium of accountable organisations and individuals would be created to take care of the cottage and honour the trust put in the Blake Society, who created and ran the public appeal, along with the Big Blake Project.
       If such a consortium had been created, as I have said many times before, the necessary funds would have been raised a long time ago and the cottage would have now been repaired. The fund-raising should have continued immediately after the purchase, with all the members of the consortium contributing their expertise and their skills and, most importantly, making sure that everybody involved was accountable.
       Instead, the cottage and the whole project were hijacked by three ambitious but incompetent men who have squandered their energies in lying to the public, bullying and intimidating any one who dares to challenge them, who have proved to be utterly unscrupulous and utterly incapable to take care of the building.
       They have lied to everybody continually and systematically: recently I found their statements to the Felpham Village Conservation Society in 2016, a concoction of falsehoods that the FVCS, if their minutes are anything to go by, swallowed like a child.
       It’s about time that the public calls these men to task, before the cottage collapses completely.
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A Haunted House

cottage

It bears all the hallmarks of a Faustian pact: the seeming prosperity of what Blake called the state of Error; what accurate language can only define as evil deeds growing unchecked and exponentially with the protection of the super-rich, the super-famous and the super-powerful. In short: everything that William Blake loathed, everything he stood against, and people like those he found despicable and impinged on his life through their arrogance and ignorance.

It is the violation of everything Blake stood for, and the violation of the place that he made in his own way holy through work and inspiration, transforming all that in his life might have been construed as evil into beauty, light, imagination and vision.

Blake is dead now. He can’t defend himself.

In what concerns literary history, literary societies and literary houses, this is as dark as it can get.

Local authorities, organisations and press are willingly embroiling themselves in the unholy alliance by protecting blindly the Blake Cottage Trust, despite the many chances they have had of finding out all that is wrong, and having all the evidence at their disposal.

The Blake Cottage Trust has now published the consultation boards regarding their plans for the Cottage and the building of their visitor centre.

In full Faustian fashion, and in keeping with the parlance of grandeur that the Chair of the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust has been worryingly indulging in of late, the BCT now talks about building a “palace of the imagination”.

It keeps on being amusing how they keep on correcting the information they give to the public according to the denunciations I’ve been making in this blog. For instance, they now understand that their former statement regarding artistic residencies lasting a week or a weekend was not really what we had promised the public to facilitate and are therefore now talking of several weeks. This is what people who have been lying to the public for over three years now, who have failed to show any concrete and sound plans or records of their decision-making from the acquisition of the Cottage, and who change what they say to the public from one day to the next depending on what those of us who’re keeping an eye on them denounce, regardless the contradictions, do. It goes without saying that they cannot be believed or trusted, since the whole business of this corrupted project in the hands of corrupted people has been a mighty breach of trust.

The plan of renting out rooms, however, has not changed. Mr Heath seems to be unable to let go of his particular ideas of a Blakean fancy hotel.

The BCT’s document includes some photos without caption so it’s hard for the reader to know what they’re looking at, and it fails to give the public any concrete information about the actual plans for the new building. Most importantly, it fails to explain how can a new visitor building in the Cottage’s grounds possibly help us ” see and experience the Cottage that William and Catherine knew, to see how they lived and worked there”, which is ostensibly their aim. I have said it before: William and Catherine Blake lived in a quiet place conducive to creation: they certainly didn’t wake up every morning to see a visitor centre in their garden.

The BCT also talk about their hopes that “Blake’s Cottage could one day be endowed and thus safeguarded”, which makes me wonder what they mean by that exactly, and what talks in the corridors of power are taking place now in keeping with this fascinating, though no doubt wretched, soul-selling saga.

For this weekend, the Blake Cottage Trust is announcing an “open day” in the Cottage. This means that they will be opening to the visitor the doors of a haunted house. I hope they at least will open the windows too so that a bit of the darkness flies out and dissolves in these glorious Summer days. I do hope that if anything of our spirit remains somewhere after we leave this earth, Blake will be watching over the place where he lived and created, the profaned place that he loved, and will help to keep it hallowed.

One thing is sure though: that the ghosts that these people have created will come back to haunt them, for they surely know that William Blake would have never opened the doors of his house to the likes of them.

HEll