Report to St James’s Church, Parochial Church Council
2005 1 April 2004—31 March 2005
The Blake Society became a registered charity on the 30 September 2004. This transformation into a Charity with a written constitution represents the next stage in the reorganisation of the Society. So we move forward into 2005, the 20th anniversary of our foundation at the Church of St James, with vigour, direction and a sound administration.
The design of our publicity materials had been enhanced—our signage at the Church, the Journal, and the Leaflets—so we hope they now reflect a professional quality that Blake would have recognized and which serves to draw new people to the Society. Indeed our Web site is attracting people who we could not otherwise have reached—one new member is an inmate of Her Majesty’s Prison!
The printing of our annual Journal has been reviewed and we are now producing it using digital technology. This had reduced the cost from over £1500 to under £750 or put more dramatically, a sum that once exceeded our total annual income from subscriptions is now well within our means.
Our relationship with St James’s Church is important both to our past and for our future. During the year we found the plaque to Blake that was lost (it had become loose from the wall of the North Vestibule and for safety someone removed it and put it in behind a cupboard in the verger’s office). Our research has discovered that it was carved by the Liverpool sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith in 1957. We hope to remount it on the walls of the Church with a dedication service in November 2005 and are working with the Rector to invite to the service the important poet, Rowan Williams, a poet who also dabbles in theology! We hope the Archbishop will inspire all who grace this Church.
This year began with a lecture by our Vice President Professor David Worrall. The artist Chris Bucklow and the poet Charles Hobday both gave Talks and we also heard 3 doctoral students speak about their researches. The subjects of the Lectures ranged from Slavery to Utopia, from Visionary Forms to Corporate Governance. We arranged visits to the home of Blake’s friend the Lady of Lavant, and Denis Severs House in Spitalfields. Our members have visited the Milton exhibition at Dove Cottage in Grasmere and led the anniversary celebrations of Blake’s Trial for Sedition at the Chichester Festival as well as holding our traditional gathering at Blake’s grave in August. Finally to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its publication, the first ever all night reading of ‘Jerusalem’ took place in the Autumn.
Our support of Blakean activities is becoming more proactive. We met up with the actor Ray Winstone and the artist Sam Taylor Wood who are making a film about Blake and offered advice to the novelist Tracy Chevalier on her latest novel about Blake’s time in Lambeth. A letter to the Chairman of the BBC means that Heather Howell who owns Blake’s Cottage can fulfil a cherished dream of hearing ‘Jerusalem’ sung at the Last Night of the Proms. Members have organised or participated in events at the Shakespeare Trust, the Chichester Festival, the ICA and many academic conferences.
Our plans to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Blake’s birth in 2007 are underway. We have had informal meetings with the Architectural Heritage Trust, the Arts Council, Westminster City Council, the Corporation of London, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the MP for the City of London and Westminster, Mark Field. Previous anniversaries in 1907, 1927, and 1957 generated many wonderful yet ephemeral events. It is our ambition for 2007 to create a permanent yet living memorial to Blake.
Chairman, The Blake Society
Last modified 22/03/2008 09:34.