‘Jerusalem’ pilgrimage visits home of manuscript and Blake’s Cottage

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Members of the British Pilgrimage Society walked 125 miles and sang ‘Jerusalem’ 100 times to honour the centenary of the music Sir Hubert Parry composed for the poem by William Blake.

They walked from the graves of Blake in Bunhill Fields and Parry in St Paul’s Cathedral via Westminster Abbey and on to the source of the song on the Sussex coastline at Blake’s Cottage in Felpham. They spent Halloween at the cottage and finished the pilgrimage at Parry’s home in Rustington.

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In Sussex, six miles and 112 years apart, the two men created England’s unofficial national anthem.

Along the way the group of six, a poet, an artist, a composer, a writer and two singers visited Shulbrede Priory at Lynchmere Parry’s original manuscript.

Guy Hayward, who took part in the pilgrimage told the Observer: “It is beautifully hand written and we were thrilled we were allowed to touch it! James Keay played Jerusalem on the piano there.

“Along the way we were joined and supported by interesting sorts, including Robert Macfarlane (writer and academic), Cosmo Sheldrake (pop star), The Duchess of Norfolk, Sam Lee (traditional British singer), Henry Eliot (writer and Blake Society luminary). We sang ‘Jerusalem’ at least 100 times and discovered the strange relationship England has with the many facets of this song and its dream.”

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