Saturday, 14 July 2012

Miss Potter

Village of Near Sawrey : Home to Beatrix Potter
Just thought I'd have a few ramblings regarding the prestigious Beatrix Potter. I guess many of you have seen  'Miss Potter,' the movie.  Apparently the National Trust have been inundated by visitors to Hilltop in near Sawrey ever since. Well, it's certainly good for business but if you stop and think for a moment the effect that this female author has had upon the world. Globally she is still a shining star and people love all of her books which portray such beautiful illustrations. It's easy to simply focus upon Beatrix the writer, but we should also remember Beatrix the artist, the mycologist and the conservationist.

I have a set myself - bought when my first son was little along with a video collection which are lovely to watch (for children of course). For anyone with babies and young children, I highly recommend you buy at least one of her books. They can't fail to entertain your children and I'll wager they'll love them.

A Young Beatrix with her dog Spot
So, the fact that Miss Potter ended up living in the Lake District makes two good reasons for visiting the area. Her first home, Hilltop, was purchased in 1905 using some of the proceeds from the sale of her first few books. She had been a regular visitor to the Lake District, spending family holidays there with her parents and brother. Later, in 1909, she bought what was to become her main residence, Castle Farm, over the road to Hilltop. William Heelis, a local solicitor who had assisted her with the purchase, became her husband in 1913. During her time there she became a farmer, a sheep breeder and a prize winning breeder of Herdwick sheep.

After thirty years of married life, Beatrix died there in December 1943. Her ashes were scattered over her land by her husband, who later died in 1945. The National Trust was bequeathed Hilltop and it remains today exactly as Beatrix left it, complete with her china and furnishings. The cottage garden is a gem and just as it would have been when she was there. All in all, Beatrix left 17 farms, eight cottages and more than 4000 acres of land to the National Trust in 1943 making her undoubtedly their largest sponsor.


She certainly was an inspiring woman, writer and illustrator.Beatrix was writing in the late 1800's through to the 1900's, an era when 'ladies' of a certain position did not work and yet she managed to get published.  The fact that she gained financial independence and security for life was a great accomplishment and she is to be truly commended.