Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's Home in the Lake District, England

Beatrix Potter lived for quite a while at Hill Top, a small farm near Hawkshead in the hamlet of Near Sawrey. She wrote several of her beloved children's stories here and even drew inspiration from various nearby buildings for illustrations.

Anvil Cottage, near the car park, was used in the Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

Anvil Cottage, Near Sawrey

Across the street is a post box that featured on the February page of Peter Rabbit's Almanac.

Famous post box

The Tower Bank Arms appears in the Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.

Tower Bank Arms

Potter bought her home, called Hill Top, in 1905 after falling in love with the Lake District and hoping to live there on a permanent basis. She had some difficulties with her parents, who naturally wanted her at home to take care of them in her old age. But she loved gardening and farming and caring for the land. Hill Top was her home until she married in 1913, when she and her husband moved to Castle Cottage nearby to have more space. Hill Top continued as a farm with a family living there, maintaining the property. It is now a National Trust site, so it is well preserved and cared for, and no photography is allowed inside.

Hill Top, seen from the garden

Hill Top from the side

The inside is quite cozy and contains original furnishings from Potter's life. The guide gave J and L some of Beatrix Potter's books so they could compare the illustrations with the actual items in the house. L was most fascinated with an elaborate doll house upstairs that looked like the inspiration for Two Bad Mice, in which two mice wreck a doll house after discovering the doll's dinner is completely inedible. When we came back downstairs, L asked the guide why the mice tried to eat the fake food. The guide said it was a good question that no one had asked before. But she didn't have a direct answer. L was soon distracted by something else, so there were no worries.

The cottage has a small garden and a field for sheep to graze.

MacGregorish garden

More garden

The sheep pen

Grazing sheep

The outdoors also has a children's trail with clues hidden among the plants. L and J carefully wrote down every letter that we found.

Found a "W" on a bobby's helmet

A little sign with a "G" on it

I won't reveal all the letters in the trail in case you have young ones. The answer has to do with The Tale of Pigling Bland, which was published 100 years ago this year (2013 as I write). It's also the 100th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's marriage to William Heelis, an event which drew her to live in Castle Cottage, a larger property that was more convenient and more spacious.

Exit through the leaves

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