FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Is the Cottage to be a museum?
A: The word ‘museum’ derives from the Greek and means ‘a seat or home for the muses’ – a place where people might be inspired. So Blake’s Cottage will certainly be a museum, a home for imagination, creativity and inspiration.
Q: What is the relationship between the Blake Cottage Trust and the Blake Society?
A: The Blake Society was founded in 1985 and is a registered charity. There are several different forms of charitable organisation and the Blake Society is known as an Unincorporated Association, which alas is unable to own property. So in 2015 the Blake Society gave birth to a new charity, the Blake Cottage Trust, that can hold property.
Q: Why cannot an Unincorporated Association own property?
A: The Blake Society is an example of an Unincorporated Association. All its members gather once a year in January to elect ten people to run it for the coming year. They are known as trustees. So, you can well imagine the problem – one year the ten trustees might decide to raise money to buy a building, and the next year, a different set of trustees might decide to sell it and use the money for a legitimate but completely different charitable purpose.
Q: How is the Blake Cottage Trust governed?
A: Its governing constitution is The Articles of Association, which can be found on the main menu under the heading Trust, and is regulated by the Charity Commission.
Q: Will the Cottage be a place for writers & artists?
A: Yes, we hope it will be a place where all those who struggle to imagine a better world might find refuge, respite and inspiration.
Q: Will the Cottage be a gallery?
A: William Blake held a solo exhibition just once in his lifetime – it was in his older brother’s house, who had inherited it from their parents, and the paintings were exhibited in the main room on the first floor, probably their parents’ bedroom, the very room where William Blake was born. So, yes, every home should be a gallery, and every room a place of creation and procreation – Blake’s Cottage especially so.
Q: Will it be possible to visit the Cottage?
A: Yes, when the restoration is complete, you will be very welcome.
Q: Why does the Cottage need restoration?
A: The Cottage was built, we believe, in the 17th century as a simple ploughman’s cottage. Its upkeep has been neglected over recent decades and the Trust is determined to ensure that it will still be standing in another 400 years time.
Q: Will I be able to sleep in the Cottage?
A: William Blake was a visionary – he dreamed dreams and saw visions. So to fully appreciate the visionary secrets of the Cottage, you will indeed be able ask to wake in Blake’s bedroom.
Q: So, is the Cottage to be a hotel?
Q: Will the Cottage be a B&B?
Q: Will it be a Dream-Catcher?
A: A Dream-Catcher … now that’s a more interesting description !
Q: Who set up the Blake Cottage Trust?
A: The law firm of Bircham Dyson Bell, who are the leading specialists in charitable law.
Q: Who paid the lawyers’ fees to set up the Trust?
A: The Heritage Lottery Fund generously gave a grant to set up the Trust.
Q: I have heard that the Trust was set up in secret?
A: No, not at all. The ten elected trustees of the Blake Society were kept fully informed of the process of forming the charity and its registration with the Charity Commission. The progress is recorded in the official Minutes.
Q: Why is there a small but vocal minority opposing the Cottage?
A: William Blake evokes great passion and he inspires opposition in equal measure to exuberance. Enthusiasm for Blake has always been the site of fierce disagreement as well as joyous celebration and discovery. The Blake community continues this tradition. He was a man who believed that the origin of the world’s problems lies in institutions, and he famously refused to join any organisation during his lifetime. To re-phrase the famous Groucho witticism, no true Blakean would ever join a Blake society.
Q: Squabbling may be inevitable but is it helpful?
A: In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake wrote ‘Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence’
Q: But isn’t it distracting to the vision of the Cottage?
A: One summer morning Blake looked out over the fields that ran gently down to the sea and saw the haymakers at work, and amongst them, angelic figures walking. This became a recurring vision in Blake’s life. The vision for the Cottage is the vision of those angels. The detractors are the haymakers, who throw up the chaff that blinds our eyes to what is truly important.
Q: What is your ten year plan for the Cottage?
A: The year of 2027 will mark a 200th anniversary for William Blake (1757-1827) and by then we intend the Cottage to be a place of international pilgrimage where people will visit from all over the world to honour the home of the dissenting imagination.
Q: The Cottage is tiny. How will you cope?
A: The success of the project will not be measured by the number of people who come through the door, but rather by what comes out of our door – creativity, imagination, truth and beauty.
Q: I mean, how will you cope? Will there be toilets?
A: We are researching 18th Century facilities so that tourists might experience verisimilitude.
Q: How can I find out more about the plans for the Cottage?
Q: You received one donation of £400,000. Why does Blake attract such generosity?
A: People come from all over the world to visit England, and they arrive on our shores knowing the names of 3 great Englishmen: Shakespeare, Newton and Blake.