Milton copy D, pl. 36. Library of Congress (image from the Blake Archive).

Blake was full of optimism and sea air when he wrote to John Flaxman after he and Catherine arrived at the cottage in Felpham (though he did remark on the amount of luggage—mostly his stuff, not hers). He immortalized it in Milton pl. 36 and is now immortalized in turn by a blue plaque on the wall. A postcard from the early twentieth century shows the house surrounded by cruciferous vegetables in a scene rather more prosaic than that depicted by Blake.

Image from Robert N. Essick.

Image from Robert N. Essick.

The cabbages have gone now, but the cottage still stands. In 2013 it went on the market for the first time in many years at a price of £650,000 (see the listing and some lovely photos here).

Now the Blake Society of London is spearheading an effort to buy the property for the public good, so that we will have the opportunity to visit Blake’s cottage just as we can Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage or Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top. It’s a crowdfunding venture and £520,000 needs to be raised in the next five weeks, by the end of October.

If you would like to make a donation, the Blake Society’s page on the effort includes a link to the JustGiving site, as well as lots more details on how the property would be managed and what happens to the donations if the goal isn’t reached or if more than £520,000 is raised.