Wednesday 28th November 2007

Birthplace Gathering
William Blake House, corner of Broadwick Street and Marshall Street W1.

1pm. Tate Britain
1pm. Free Spirits shall gather in the Blake Room
2pm-6pm. Mental Fight Club Showcase, including live music, poetry, exhibits and films.

5pm. St. Giles-in-the-Fields
Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of William Blake

6pm. St. John's Waterloo
The Live Literature Company presents
Songs of Innocence and of Experience read by Janet Whiteside
Elliot Hayes' play Blake
Tickets £8 (£5 concessions) at the door.

7pm. St Olave
Hart Street EC3
Blake Songs
Michael Bojesen: The voice of the ancient bard (2002), Thomas Dunhill: Memory (1902)
Alan Gray: My Silks and Fine Array; Love and Harmony (1900s)
John Ireland: A Cradle Song (1912), John Tavener: The lamb (1985), Judith Weir: My Guardian Angel (1999)

ickets: £8 (concessions £5)

7.30pm. The House at Blake Corner
William Blake House, corner of Broadwick Street and Marshall Street W1, for the dedication of THE BLAKE CAKE at 7.45pm, the moment of Blake's birth.

10.30pm 'til 3am. William Blake's 250th Birthday Party
The 12 Bar, Denmark Street.
Across the street from St. Giles-in-the-Fields there stands a tiny forge building that was old even in Blake's day. Today it is home of the legendary 12 Bar rock club, and tonight it will unleash a raucous ensemble of poetry, loud music and celebration.

New Players Theatre
The Theatre of Eternal Values' current production William Blake: Divine Humanity (see below) will have an extra-special flavour this evening, with an after-party

New Players Theatre, Charing Cross, London WC2
20th November - 2nd December 2007

International theatre company The Theatre of Eternal Values present their latest production, which combines the timeless genius of William Blake’s prophetic works with the breathtaking immediacy of physical theatre. Let WILLIAM BLAKE'S DIVINE HUMANITY take you journey of the soul, where you will be carried on the wings of Blake’s visionary world, through the industrial mire of the ‘dark satanic mills’ of 18th century London towards Great Eternity and beyond ‘the doors of perception’.

This new production uses as its basis the eternal story of the prophet Job and Blake's own prophetic work "Jerusalem", interwoven with re-enactments of key moments of Blake’s life and the times he lived in, incorporating his songs and poems.

William Blake’s Divine Humanity
A dramatisation of Blake’s Life and Work
Nightly 20 November – 2 December, at 7.30 pm
Preview performances Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 November
World premiere Thursday 22 November
Blake's birthday celebrations Wednesday 28 November
Matinee performance Saturday 1 December, at 2.30 pm

TICKETS: £15, £12 (concs.) and £10 (preview tickets, and groups of 10 or more), online at or from on 08444 77 1000 (groups: 0844 844 9990)

The performance on Monday 26 November will be a rehearsed reading of "BLAKE: A PLAY" by Paul Duncan. (Tickets £5 on the door.)


Eternity in an Hour
New Players Theatre, Charing Cross, London WC2
21st November - 2nd December 2007

As part of the Blake 250 celebrations, the two-week run of WILLIAM BLAKE’S DIVINE HUMANITY at The New Players Theatre is accompanied by a full programme of lunchtime events that celebrate the genius of Blake’s art in all its forms. As well as readings and dramatisations of his work, the mini-festival will include interpretations of Blake’s work performed in classical and modern musical styles, dance and a series of multimedia shows highlighting the significance behind many of his best-loved illustrations.
The events run from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm on the dates shown below. Tickets £5 on the door.
Wednesday 21 November
Letters from Paradise actor Kenneth Jay
Modern interpretations of Blake songs Sia Reddy and Jeremy Clancy
Thursday 22 November
A Golden String: choice passages and curious extracts from William Blake’s writingactor Philip Beckwith, with violin accompaniment from Joe Townsend
Songs of BlakeNiall McDevitt and Liza Hayden
Saturday 24 November
The Life of Christ through the Paintings of Blake Luis & Carol Garrido
Modern interpretations of Blake songs Sia Reddy
Monday 26 – Wednesday 28 November
Songs of Innocence and Experience part I
Classical music by Swedish composer Janåke Hillerud. Interpreted by soprano Margareta Hillerud and pianist Jan Waterfield
Songs of Innocence and Experience part II
sung by Victor Vertunni and danced by Monia Giovannangeli, with Leo Vertunni (guitar) and Maxim Vertunni (bass)
Thursday 29 November
The Life of Christ through the Paintings of Blake Luis & Carol Garrido
The Tyger a dance interpretation by Marja Merisalo
Saturday 01 December
William Blake and the Imaging of Inspiration James Malpas of Sotheby’s Institute of Art
Meet the cast an opportunity to meet the directors and cast of WILLIAM BLAKE’S DIVINE HUMANITY




The Chalcot Tea Room, also known as the Chalk Farm Tavern, dates approximately 1790-1840. The Tea Room catered for many of the workers during the construction of the North-Western Railway Tunnel under Adelaide Road that connected Chalk Farm with Kilburn (the tunnel, which opened in 1834, was in its day the largest civil engineering tunnel project in the world). The exact location of the tea room is now unknown, though the existence of a handful of buildings of late 18th Century origination on the east side of Chalk Farm Road near the junction with Haverstock Hill and Adelaide Road - as well as the horse trough - would suggest that this would have been about the optimum point for such an establishment to flourish for the best part of half a century. Industry and markets grew up around this geographical point from the early Victorian era onwards, the Roundhouse and the Stables serving as testament to its literally pivotal importance on the main route into the city from the north and from Hampstead.

Although a variety of dishes were served throughout the tenure of the Tea Room, from meat pies and herb puddings to Camden cheese steaks and forcemeat balls, only one recipe spanned the entire 50 year era; the London ale cake.

Whilst there have been many variations on this traditional recipe, this particular version, with its particular timeline and geography, could well have been sampled by the likes of William Blake and John Linnell, as the Chalcot Tea Room most likely lay directly on the route between Hampstead and Soho that they would frequently have taken.

Ale Cake was, of course, popularised in London in the era because the ingredients were cheap and readily available. Ale was used because cow's milk was expensive and water often undrinkable due to contamination. Later Victorian variations add nuts and cherries, but at Blake's time dried mixed fruit would most likely have been the mainstay ingredient.

The raising agent referred to in the original recipe, Salerate, should be substituted for Bicarbonate of Soda, which is basically the same thing. For reasons of authenticity of taste it is suggested that the Light Ale used be one of the traditional London brewed varieties, such as Young's or Fuller's.

"Pudding Spice" is a traditional English blend of sweet spices that typically includes cinnamon, nutmeg, caraway and pimento (allspice). It is better known today as "Mixed Spice", and indeed the first known printed reference to it as Mixed Spice appeared in a recipe for Ale Cake published in an English cookbook in 1828, the year after Blake's death.

A "slow" oven in modern terms means approximately Gas Mark 3.

Note that this version of the recipe states that Light Brown Sugar be used. It is important to note this as in most modern recipes brown sugar refers to the now more common darker variety.

(Interestingly, in the late 1800s, the newly consolidated refined white sugar industry, which did not have full control over brown sugar production, mounted a smear campaign against brown sugar, reproducing microscopic photographs of harmless but repulsive-looking microbes living in brown sugar. The effort was so successful that by 1900, a best-selling cookbook warned that brown sugar was of inferior quality and was susceptible to infestation by "a minute insect". It is quite possible that this slur affected consumption to the point that many erstwhile traditional recipes, such as Ale Cake, suffered an irreversible decline in popularity as a result.)


Half a pint of light ale
4 ounces of butter
5 ounces of light brown sugar
12 ounces of mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins etc.)
3 tea spoons of salerate (bicarbonate of soda)
2 tea spoons of pudding spice (mixed spice)
10 ounces of flour (plain)
1 lightly beaten egg


Mix together the ale, butter, sugar and fruit, and simmer for 20 minutes then leave to cool.
Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Place into a cake tin and bake in a slow oven for one and a half hours (Gas Mark 3, preheated).


See below for the list of BLAKE 250 events, ongoing and otherwise, in 2007:

British Library Conference Centre, St. Pancras, London WC1
Monday 5th March 2007
Tracy Chevalier, author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, will be reading from her forthcoming novel Burning Bright, an imaginative revocation of Blake's London, partly based on research on Blake's note book held by the British Library. The evening will also feature an introduction to Blake's poetry and methods as a printer from Blake scholar Michael Phillips. The Treasures Gallery will also feature of small exhibition of Blake manuscripts and related materials. Tickets £6.50 SOLD OUT

The Romantic Spirit in British Art
Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1TJ
31st March - 10th June 2007

Poets in the Landscape explores the creative links between poetry, the pastoral vision and British art in the work of Romantic artists of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the ‘Neo-Romantic’ artists of the mid-20th century.Taking as its starting point William Blake’s visionary period in Sussex, when he was working for the Chichester poet William Hayley, the exhibition features the poetically inspired art of Blake and his Romantic contemporaries and followers, including Edward Calvert, John Flaxman, Samuel Palmer, George Romney and Joseph Wright of Derby. It considers Blake and Palmer’s influence on the 'Neo-Romantic' artists and poets whose work embodied a search for a 'Paradise Lost', including Michael Ayrton, Cecil Collins, John Craxton, David Gasgoyne, Geoffrey Grigson, John Minton, Ceri Richards, Graham Sutherland, Dylan Thomas and Keith Vaughan.

St. Giles-in-the-Fields Church, London WC2
Friday 27th April 2007

An evening of eclectic performances of the poetry of William Blake. A free event open to everyone, ALBION RISING takes place in the glorious setting of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, the "Poets' Church", St. Giles High Street, London WC2.

Readers include legendary English actor Dudley Sutton, who recently played the part of William Blake in Peter Ackroyd's BBC television series "The Romantics". Dudley is joined by a cast that includes actor Andrew Robertson ("The Cement Garden", "Gormanghast"), musician and writer Jude Rawlins (Subterraneans' frontman and author of "Divine Images"), poet and performer Suzanne Andrade (founder of the 1927 Group and Edinburgh Festival veteran), punk icon Soo Catwoman, Andrew Solomon (author of "William Blake's Great Task"), artist Dion October and more.

Feren's Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Square, Kingston upon Hull
7 April - 20 May 2007
The Burrell Collection, 2060 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow
3 November - 6th January 2008

Mind-Forg’d Manacles: William Blake and Slavery coincides with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade, as well as the 250th anniversary of Blake’s birth. Slavery was a fundamental theme in William Blake’s art and writing. He was fervently opposed to it, and during his lifetime (1757-1827) saw successful campaigns against the Atlantic slave trade, leading to its abolition in 1807. Slavery was also for Blake a mental state; to have limited perceptions, to pursue materialistic ends, to follow conventional religion or science, was to be enslaved and to be held with ‘mind-forg’d manacles’ of one’s own making. Mentally restricted figures are shown enclosed within themselves, while those free of mental shackles fly upwards like birds. The show is drawn from the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, and will consist of 64 watercolours, prints and plates from his illuminated books, together with other works contextualising slavery.

Freedom Songs
Tate Britain (Manton Studio)
7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th May 2007
The groundbreaking Mental Fight Club present this outstanding contribution to Blake's birthday celebrations. Six days of inspirational workshops hosted at Tate Britain, home to the world's finest permanent collection of William Blake exhibits. Create poetry and music which explore themes of slavery and freedom, both mental and physical. All workshops are free and will draw on the work of William Blake and other radical writers, dissenters and revolutionaries. You can come along to as many as you like.

11am-4pm Free lunch available The Manton Studio, Tate Britain
PLUS Free Tate Boat from Tate Modern

Reggae Jerusalem
7th & 8th May 7 & 8

Create new visions and versions of William Blake’s poems with poet David Neita and Caribbean Steel Drums

Words into Worlds
9th May

Cut and paste your own poetry from revolutionary texts, with writer and performer Rosemary Harris.

Human Rights Manifesto
14th & 15th May

Look at The Declaration of Human Rights as inspiration for your own expressions of freedom, with sound artist Isa Suarez

Sound Spirits
16th May

Explore the spirit that moves us through movement, breath and sound, with musicians Elena Riu & Vivien Ellis

Reserve your place by e-mail with Declan McGill:
or ring Frances Williams at Tate Britain on 0207 887 8759

Westminster Abbey
Tuesday 10th July 2007

The Abbey choir will sing Stephen Hough's "Mass of Innocence and Experience", Simon Callow will read poems, and there will be a performance of the Vaughan Williams' Blake Songs for tenor and oboe.

LSO St. Luke's, 161 Old Street, London EC1
Sunday 29th July 2007

The London Symphony Orchestra's Youth Fusion Orchestra will perform the world premiere of their "Auguries of Innocence" piece, inspired by the Blake poem and commissioned especially for Blake 250 by Jude Rawlins.


The Drawing Room, Tannery Arts, Brunswick Wharf, 55 Laburnum Street, London E2
4th October - December 2007

A special exhibition curated by The Great Unsigned.