28 July 2016 marks 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter, one of the world’s best-loved children’s authors. Beatrix Potter is synonymous with the Lake District, where she lived and where, today, fans can visit her house and see the landscapes immortalised in her delightful illustrations and tales, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tailor of Gloucester.In 1905, with the proceeds from her books and a family legacy, Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a village in the Lake District. The Lake District inspired many of her creations, its creatures and landscapes brought vividly to life in her stories and illustrations; Potter bred sheep there and was a successful farmer with a keen interest in land preservation. In fact, it’s thanks to her that much of the land that makes up the stunning Lake District National Park is preserved and that the National Trust now looks after more 4,000 acres and 14 farms in the area.
Fans of the ‘tales’ mustn’t miss a visit to the World of Beatrix PotterTM Attraction based in Bowness-on-Windermere. You’re first treated to a five minute film about the famous author and her stories (available in English, Chinese and Japanese); visitors then enter the main exhibition and are welcomed to an enchanting world in which the sights and sounds of Beatrix Potter’s celebrated characters are magically brought to life, with three-dimensional scenes from 23 Beatrix Potter stories intended to make you feel as if you’re walking right on the pages of Potter’s stories. There’s a fascinating Peter RabbitTM Garden filled with nature from the tales, from the cos lettuces that Benjamin Bunny nibbled on to the gooseberry bush where Peter got caught in a net as he tried to escape Mr. McGregor. Take afternoon tea, complete with fresh-baked scones, in the attraction’s Beatrix Potter Café and English Tea Garden, supplied by the organic Kitchen Garden. www.hop-skip-jump.com
At the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, admirers of Beatrix Potter can visit the world’s largest collection of her drawings, literary manuscripts and correspondence, and there is a changing display on varying aspects of her work in the Beatrix Potter Showcase. The museum was a source of inspiration for Potter in her lifetime, particularly the costumes on display; the 18th century clothes in the collections were the inspiration behind the mayor’s wedding outfit in The Tailor of Gloucester. www.vam.ac.uk
Beatrix Potter 150: National Trust events in the Lake District
Beatrix Potter Gallery: ‘Romance & Realism’ a life inspired by nature
Until 30 October 11am – 4.30pm, daily except Friday: The Gallery explores Beatrix’s love of the natural world from an early age. Highlights of the exhibition include original illustrations from classics such as ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck’, some of Beatrix’s sketchbooks and excerpts from her coded journal. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatrix-potter-gallery-and-hawkshead
Allan Bank, Grasmere: Beyond Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter’s inspiration
Until Christmas: Explore the inspiration Beatrix took from her enduring friendship with Canon Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust. You’ll discover how Rawnsley’s views inspired her to preserve special places in the Lakes from being irreparably ruined by development.
Story letters – the origins of the Tale of Peter Rabbit
23 July – 4 September, 10am – 5pm: Did you know that the tale of Peter Rabbit started out an illustrated letter? Take a seat in the study and have a go at writing and colouring in your own story letter to someone special at home.
Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth: Be inspired by Beatrix
One Fri a month in June, September & October (see website for dates) 10am – 1.30pm: Join Kate Smith, the artist in residence and enjoy exclusive access to Wordsworth House and Garden on a Friday with the friendly art class and draw the type of subject matter that inspired Beatrix Potter. This is an informal group for all abilities, with Kate offering tips and advice.
Cost: £35 per session, including tea or coffee and biscuits on arrival plus lunch in the cosy café. (£5 discount per session if booking three or more.) Booking essential. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wordsworth-house
Hill Top, Near Sawrey: Hill Top Showcase Tours
1 September & 6 October: Event starts 30 minutes after closing time, so 4pm, 5pm or 6pm
Join us after-hours for exclusive access and a curated tour of the house and get up close to items from the collection. There’ll be time to browse the shop and a complimentary glass of wine. £25. Booking essential.
Hill Top, Near Sawrey: Garden Tours
Third Sunday of each month until Oct, except Jul and Aug, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm: Join our very own Mr. McGregor, gardener Pete, for a half-hour guided tour of Beatrix Potter’s delightful farm house garden. Learn about the history of the garden, its plants and the deep connections with Beatrix’s life and work.
Castle Cottage Tours, Hill Top near Sawrey
8 & 28 July 3.45pm – 6.30pm: This deeply personal tour is presented by the current tenant of the cottage and its beautiful gardens, not normally open to the public where Beatrix continued to experience the peace of the village she loved. Complimentary local refreshments will be served before the tour, while afterwards there will be time to enjoy the garden. £25. Booking essential. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hill-top
Wordsworth House & Garden: ‘Beatrix Potter’s love of the Northern Lakes’
16 July – 30 October, daily except Friday 11am – 4pm: Celebrate Beatrix’s lifelong love affair with the Northern Lakes and her characters Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny and Mrs Tiggywinkle who were captured in her Derwentwater Sketchbook. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wordsworth-house
Beatrix Birthday Parties: July 28th is the Big Day and will be celebrated in style with special outdoor picnics throughout the Lakes. Check the National Trust website and social media for more details.
Beatrix Potter events around Britain
Mottisfont, Hampshire: Beatrix Potter: Play and Childhood, 16 July to 18 September
Play and Childhood features a delightful collection of 30 original Beatrix Potter watercolours and drawings, along with a small selection of rare vintage Beatrix Potter dolls and figurines, all of which are rarely exhibited outside of their home in the Lake District.
The exhibition showcases some of Beatrix Potter’s most famous characters including Peter Rabbit and the Two Bad Mice, whilst taking you on a journey into the world of play and childhood. There is also an action-packed family trail inspired by Beatrix’s playful characters and colourful stories. On set weekends over the summer holidays there’s additional Beatrix Potter-themed fun from storytelling, face-painting, and drop-in sessions with artists. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont