Blake's Cottage

In early 1800, William Blake, who was suffering from severe melancholy, was invited by the poet and biographer William Hayley to visit Felpham, a small village on the Sussex coast. Hayley hoped the sea air would lift Blake's depression and commissioned works from Blake to be completed during the visit. Blake was so inspired by the coastal setting after the gloom of London that he and his wife Catherine rented a seventeenth-century cottage, which he described as both beautiful and practical and a perfect setting for artistic inspiration.

The move heralded a burst of creativity from the couple.  Initially Blake produced paintings and engravings for Hayley as well as his own work. Felpham was a significant influence on his prophetic writings, he felt a mystical connection with the location and describes visions he experienced there.  In time, however, the conflicting demands of the commissions and his desire to concentrate on his own work meant that the relationship with his patron grew strained.  Also Catherine’s health was declining in the damp seaside atmosphere.

In 1803, a confrontation with a soldier in the cottage garden, who accused the poet of cursing the King, led to Blake being tried for sedition.  This  traumatic event prompted the couple's return to London. Nonetheless the few years he spent in Felpham remained a cherished memory, deeply impacting his artistic and spiritual life.

To read more about the Blakes' life in the cottage click here.

Catherine Blake, sketch by William Blake, 1803