William Blake's cottage among England's historic sites that may be lost forever

Dwelling where poet wrote words of 'Jerusalem' at risk from decay, says Historic England

The thatched cottage where William Blake wrote the poem best-known as the hymn Jerusalem is one of England's historic sites at risk of being lost forever, according to Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register 2021.

The warning comes after a separate heritage report found climate change will destroy historic sites along England’s northern coast.

By contrast, sites such as London's Battersea Power Station, an 18th century landscape painted by English Romantic artist JMW Turner, and the world's tallest three-sided obelisk in Somerset have been saved, according to this year's Heritage at Risk Register.

They are among the 233 sites in England which have been saved from neglect, decay or inappropriate development and taken off the register. However, 130 deteriorating sites have been added to the list.

There are now 4,985 locations on the register, which is 112 fewer than in 2020, government heritage agency Historic England said.

Historic England's at risk register - in pictures

Decay and problems with the thatch, roof and masonry of the grade II-listed cottage in Felpham, Bognor Regis, West Sussex in southern England – which Blake and his wife Catherine called home between 1800 and 1803 – has seen it placed on the register.

It was there Londoner Blake wrote And did those feet in ancient time, which in 1916 was set to music as Jerusalem by Hubert Parry. Over the years, Jerusalem has become an alternative English national anthem.

The building was placed into trust for the nation in 2015, while a fundraising appeal has been launched for the site's restoration.

Historic England said that the places at risk comprise 1,459 buildings or structures, 2,001 non-structural archaeological locations, 923 places of worship, 104 parks and gardens, 491 conservation areas, three battlefields and four protected shipwreck sites.

Centuries-old windmill could be wound down

Bourn Mill in Cambridgeshire is one of England's oldest windmills, thought to date from the early 17th century, but it faces collapse as its central supporting beams are rotting.

The main post of the grade I-listed windmill is believed to be from a tree felled after 1515.

The site was an inspiration for the work of renowned architect Norman Foster – who has worked on many projects in the UAE. He prepared drawings of the windmill while studying at the University of Manchester.

The remains of a garden at Warley Place in Essex, created by influential horticulturalist Ellen Willmott are also at risk.

Urgent action is needed to fund and introduce a conservation plan to repair ruined structures, uncover hidden architectural features and help enhance the nature reserve.

More than 60 plants have been named in honour of either Warley Place or Willmott.

She transformed the grounds into one of the most celebrated gardens in the country after moving there with her parents in 1875.

The Restoration, which is a protected shipwreck lying off the Goodwin Sands near Deal in Kent, is among the other heritage sites which are now officially at risk.

It comes after a sandbank moved off the wreck and left it exposed.

The 70-gun British Navy ship sunk there in Great Storm of 1703, with the loss of all the 387 men on board.

However, Battersea Power Station, which was built from 1929 and had been on the at-risk register for 30 years, has been taken off the register.

The once derelict station which became vacant by 1983 has been revamped with new retail, leisure and dining venues alongside housing and office space at the site which supplied one fifth of London's electricity.

Simon Murphy, chief executive at the Battersea Power Station Development Company, said he was “delighted” that “several years of careful and complex restoration” had resulted in the site's removal from the register.

Plumpton Rocks in Harrogate, which was one of a collection of gardens across North Yorkshire that was painted by JMW Turner, has also been saved.

The silting of the lake and tree growth had threatened the site.

But the lake has been dredged, repairs have been made to the dam, and work carried out to manage the trees and vegetation growth.

Restoration work is also taking place on the parkland.

Updated: November 4th 2021, 12:52 AM