BEST-SELLING author Beryl Kingston has started a petition against proposed changes to Felpham’s best-known cottage.
Beryl has launched the protest to try to halt the planned work to Blake’s Cottage. She has spent this week circulating the petition and putting up posters around the village drawing attention to it.
She was also hoping to have an online version available to sign on her website. Beryl said she was at odds with the intention of The Blake’s Cottage Trust’s intention to replace later extensions to the historic cottage in Blakes Road with a multifunctional building which it hopes will draw visitors to Felpham.
“People in the area will be horrified when they find out what could happen. “It’s all the wrong way round,” said Beryl, of Aldwick. “The trust should spend the money first on getting the cottage in a fit state for people to visit it.
“Once they have started to come to have a look around where Blake lived, and they will come from all over the place to seeit , then you can use the profit to build a modern centre.
“The trust think people will want to see the modern centre but people are interested in the cottage – not that. They will just think of it as a modern building in the garden and hardly notice it.”
The situation meant supporters of Blake had two jobs, said Beryl. One was to press for repairs to the Grade II-listed cottage to begin as soon as possible. The other was to insist no new building should even be considered until the cottage was successful.
Famous poet and visionary William Blake moved to the cottage in 1800. His three years there saw him write the words which became Jerusalem. He also called Felpham the sweetest spot on earth because he enjoyed his time there so much.
“I admire Blake and I have a passion for Felpham,” said Beryl. “I first came here in 1931, I went to school here and I taught here for ten years. My son taught here as well.
“I came across Blake when I was 16. I recognised his mind and I have read everything he has written two or three times.”
The Blake’s Cottage Trust bought the cottage a year ago. It expects to announce the chosen architect for the new building this month after inviting a shortlist of four to compete for the work. Compiling the plans is expected to cost £50,000 and the new building has a budget of £500,000.
A surveyor’s report for the trust details the work which needs to be done at the cottage. The defects include at least eight snapped rafters in the roof with the need for some temporary support until the building is re-roofed and roof strengthening takes place. There was also some water ingress.