Raising the Roof

A thatched roof of rusted gold

A fundraising campaign is launched today to repair the roof of Blake’s Cottage in West Sussex where William Blake wrote the hymn Jerusalem beneath his ‘thatched roof of rusted gold’.

The cottage was rescued by The Blake Cottage Trust in 2015 who purchased it for the nation, and all lovers of Blake across the world. The Trust is now launching a fundraising appeal to restore the thatch and then renovate the building in time for the two hundredth anniversary of Blake’s death in 2027. The Cottage is one of the only two surviving homes of the poet, artist and visionary William Blake (1757-1827).

The Cottage is in Felpham on the Sussex coast, an old village named in the Domesday Book and is a 17th century, grade II* listed thatched brick & flint cottage. Blake’s own etching of the Cottage is pictured above.

William and his wife Catherine (1762-1831) lived in the Cottage for 3 years from 1800-1803 – a critical turning point in Blake’s life. It was during this period that Blake wrote the hymn Jerusalem with the famous opening lines to And did those feet in ancient times / Walk upon England’s Mountains green?  It was also while living at the Cottage that Blake was accused and put on trial for Treason.

Earlier this year the Blake Cottage Trust applied to Historic England to put the Cottage on the Heritage At Risk Register due to the decay and failure of part of the thatch, roof structure and supporting masonry. The Trust has appointed the architects MICA, who won the architect of the year award in 2020, to oversee the work.

The Secretary of the Trust, Jonathan Mullard, observed ‘We are grateful for the support of Historic England. Fundraising and renovation takes time, but, as Blake wrote: ‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time.”

To support the roof please go to the Donate page