Beatrix Potter is one of the most successful children’s writers of all time. She was also into conservation, science, and illustration. There’s plenty already written about Potter’s life, so I won’t try and shove it all in this blog post. Instead, I’ll concentrate on Hill Top, the house where Potter lived and worked from 1905 until her death in 1944.
She left Hill Top to the National Trust, an organisation she was involved with when she was alive and it’s displayed pretty much exactly as it would have been when she lived there.
Although Beatrix loved the place, her purchase of Hill Top has a sad backstory. Beatrix became unofficially engaged to Norman Warne, but her parents disapproved as he didn’t come from a moneyed background. Nevertheless, the couple planned to buy Hill Top, perhaps as a holiday home, as Beatrix used to holiday in the Lake District as a child. Unfortunately, Norman died aged just 37, before they could marry or complete buying the house. Beatrix still went ahead with the purchase, however, determined to live in “that charming village”.
Beatrix worked with tenant farmer John Cannon to run the farm learning all she could about the land and animals. She also extended the house and bought more land working with local solicitor William Heelis. In 1913, Beatrix and William married. Like Warne, her parents didn’t approve, but it didn’t matter. Beatrix was a successful writer and businesswoman – she had no need to rely on them or anyone else to support her.
Beatrix continued to write books and also created her own merchandise, including a Peter Rabbit soft toy. These sales, along with money from the farm, made her financially comfortable. Although she and William moved to another house, Beatrix kept Hill Top as a place where she could work. She didn’t just have a room to write in, she had a whole house!
As mentioned, one of her other passions was conservation. Her money meant she was able to buy land in the area at risk of development. She also passed this land to the National Trust upon her death and it makes up a significant portion of the Lake District National Park today. It’s safe to say, if it wasn’t for Beatrix, this landscape would look very different today.
It was great to be able to visit her home and see it as it was in her day, to get a feel for the charming cost rooms, and beautiful garden. But if you’re planning to go, then just know it’s (unsurprisingly) a popular place. Even with timed tickets and only a few people let inside at a time, it did feel crowded (I had some fun trying to take my photos around people). Because of this, I didn’t get to spend quite as long as I would’ve liked inside, but I did enjoy my visit, and it’s worth going to. I’d like to try visiting again sometime to get a proper experience.
What do you think? Have you visited Hill Top before? Please share your thoughts n the comments.
Oh my! Wasn’t The Tale of Peter Rabbit on every child’s early reading list? 😀
My parents bought the books for my sibs and me, I bought them for my children, and even though my first grandchild won’t be born until December, my daughter has already added a stuffed toy Peter Rabbit to the nursery!
The house is beautiful! I’m glad Beatrix was such a savvy businesswoman AND conservationist. Too many noted places of historical interest are allowed to fall into ruin.
I wanted to visit historical places on my next trip to the UK, but you’re making it really hard to choose! 😀
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Hi yes, all the Beatrix Potter books were in my childhood library. The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle was my favourite as the little girl in it was named Lucy, like my doll. It was nice to learn how much she did outside of writing too. The Lake District is so beautiful, and it’s hard to protect our countryside. And congratulations on your (upcoming) grandchild! I’m sure they’ll have a whole raft of books to choose from.