For a mere £650,000 you can own the Grade II cottage in west Sussex where the writer and artist worked on his poem Milton
The west Sussex cottage that William Blake lived in from 1800 to 1803, when he began work on Milton: A Poem, has come up for sale for the first time since 1928.
Blake had already completed major works such as Songs of Innocence and Experience when he left London with his wife, Catherine, to move into the now Grade II-listed thatched cottage in the village of Felpham.
While illustrating the works of poet William Hayley, Blake was preparing Milton, which was written between 1804 and 1810. The Blakes are rumoured to have read aloud Milton's Paradise Lost in the nude in the cottage's sitting room. In Book II of Milton, Blake appears in the garden of the cottage, where he is visited by the female figure Ololon.
The estate agent describes the property, priced at £650,000, as: "A most picturesque 17th century brick-and-flint period cottage … set in a sheltered walled garden in the heart of the old village within 250 yards of the foreshore."
Blake was apprenticed to a master engraver in London at the age of 18 and spent time at the Royal Academy. He made ends meet by selling his engravings, and by illustrating for books and magazines; the cottage's dining room is thought to have housed his printing press.
A clash with authority during Blake's time at Felpham ended when the poet was charged with the assault of soldier John Schofield, and for uttering "seditious and treasonable expressions" against the king. Schofield claimed that Blake said: "Damn the King … damn his solder, they are all slaves." However, Blake was cleared of the charges; according to a report in the Sussex county paper: "The invented character of [the evidence] was ... so obvious that an acquittal resulted."
Schofield was later depicted wearing "mind-forged manacles" in an illustration for the poem Jerusalem.
In "To my dear Friend, Mrs Anna Flaxman", completed in 1800, Blake wrote: "Away to sweet Felpham, for Heaven is there / The Ladder of Angels descends thro' the air / On the turret its spiral does softly descend / Thro' the village then winds, at my cot it does end."