News

5th June 2024

The acclaimed author and Blake Cottage Trust Ambassador, John Higgs, has called for urgent support for the Blake Cottage Trust's appeal for funds to save this important building where Blake produced some of his most inspirational work. Contrasting the huge international and domestic popularity of Blake spanning the worlds of rock and folk musicians, the Proms and the Womens' Institute, with the neglect by the nation of this iconic venue in Sussex, John highlighted the reality that if nothing is done this year to save the cottage roof, chances of preserving the building will become even more difficult.

John made his remarks during a Sotheby's Talk in London being held in advance of the auction of one of the earliest original editions of The Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The auction will be held in New York on June 26th with initial pricing being set at $1.2-1.8 million.

Also speaking at the event art historian Andrew Graham Dixon highlighted the unique creativity of Blake in combining poetry, painting and printing in ways still resonant today and typical of a distinctively British cultural heritage with wide appeal.

Selby Kiffer, Sothebys Senior Vice President described the special provenance of the Blake edition which was magnificently displayed at the event. The book is auctioned alongside an original handwritten letter by William Taylor Coleridge in which he ranks the poems. 

Commenting after the Sotheby's talk Blake Cottage Trust Chairperson, Doug Nicholls said: "Blake gave his priceless images and words free of charge to the world yet was buried in a pauper's grave. His imagination was particularly stirred during his three year stay in the cottage and I believe the greatest token of appreciation the world could now give to him would be to ensure that this wonderful place can be transformed by 2027, when we commemorate the bicentenary of his death, into a place of creativity and legacy as the nation has done for most of our other great writers and artists."

Songs of Innocence and Experience

Coleridge letter about Songs of Innocence and Experience

Sotheby's panel L-R: Dr Shahidha Bari; BCT Ambassador John Higgs; art historian Andrew Graham Dixon; and Selby Kiffer, Sotheby's Books Department.

29th May 2024

Doug Nicholls, chairperson of the Blake Cottage Trust and fellow trustee Richard Clemmow met Cllr. Roger Nash, Deputy Leader of Arun District Council and Chair of the Economic Development Committee at the cottage.  They showed Cllr. Nash the Cottage and garden and discussed how the Trust's plans to preserve the Cottage, returning it to a state which would be familiar to William and Catherine Blake,  and to create a new Blake Centre celebrating his life and work, could form part of the council's arts and cultural vision for greater Bognor Regis. The council is currently working on a detailed plan with financial support from the Arts Council and have invited the Trust to collaborate. 

Doug Nicholls with Cllr. Roger Nash

24th May 2024

The Trust is pleased to announce that Arun District Council has granted Listed Building Consent for the proposed roof works at Blake’s Cottage. This is an important step forward in our work to save the Cottage.  The Listed building consent covers "the repair or replacement of structural roof timbers and the carrying out of rethatching of the roof including making good and redecoration of internal finishes affected by the works".

13th May 2024

The Blake Cottage Trust is delighted to announce that Bruce Dickinson has agreed to become the first patron of the charity. The Iron Maiden frontman has been a life-long devotee of the visionary, artist and poet, and has frequently referenced Blake’s works within his own creative output.

With the Cottage in desperate need of repair and plans to build a centre celebrating the life and work of William and Catherine Blake, Bruce will be at the vanguard of the fund-raising campaign and will soon be launching an auction of memorabilia from both Iron Maiden and his solo career, through the Iron Maiden Fanclub, including the William Blake gravestone as seen in the video for his latest single Rain on the Graves. Bruce also intends to play a fund-raising concert, details of which will be announced in due course.

Bruce said, “William Blake has given me so much over the years and I want to repay the debt by helping to restore the Cottage. Despite his impact on the world, there is no centre for Blake, nowhere people can visit to see the place where he actually lived and worked during a key part of his life. I want to change this.”

Doug Nicholls, Chair of The Blake Cottage Trust, said, “We are delighted to welcome Bruce as our Patron. Blake’s Cottage provides an important physical link to an artist and poet whose work helped shape Britain. With Bruce’s active support I am sure that we will be able to achieve our aim of restoring it for future generations.”

Details of Bruce Dickinson’s seventh solo album The Mandrake Project, and the associated worldwide tour can be found here: https://www.themandrakeproject.com/