A story of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District

Days out, Family

The first images that spring to mind when thinking of Beatrix Potter are nostalgic depictions of Peter Rabbit in his garden, Miss Tiggy-Winkle and her kitchen and Jemima Puddle-Duck on her hill top - images all synonymous with our own childhoods. She doesn’t need an introduction, she has been known and loved by many for years, inspiring generations of children with her whimsical tales giving life to woodland characters and landscapes. View our cottages in the area to see where Beatrix Potter called home for yourself.

Beatrix Potter was born on the 28th July 1866 in South Kensington, London. She lived a sheltered life with little contact from other children, and with no formal education for girls during the 19th century, she spent her time surrounded by her various pets, which she made drawings of. Her love of animals developed further after spending many childhood holidays in the countryside – she watched squirrels in the woods, observed rabbits in the vegetable gardens and made many sketches of the surrounding landscapes.

During the summer months Beatrix Potter and her parents took three month holidays in Scotland, however when Beatrix was 16, the house they normally stayed in became unavailable so her parents decided to visit the Lake District instead, they rented Wray Castle near Ambleside. This grand venue was to become home to many functions and parties thrown by the Potters to which one of the attendees included Hardwicke Rawnsley, who in 1895 went on to become one of the founders of the National Trust and would later encourage Beatrix to publish her first book.

The next 21 years of Beatrix Potter’s life were filled with frequent holidays to the Lake District, from which her views on the need to preserve the natural beauty of the area stemmed from - she fell in love with the unspoilt beauty surrounding the holiday home in which they stayed. Over the years, the Potters went on to stay in Fawe Park, Holehird and Lingholm by Derwentwater - Beatrix particularly loved it here and spent hours exploring the flowers and wildlife.

Upon returning home to London, her mind was bursting with fond memories of the Lake District and all who contributed to its beauty. It was these memories which inspired her initial illustrations of the animals she met, which later went on to form ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’. After her first book was eventually published in 1902 numerous books went on to follow, including ‘Squirrel Nutkin’ and ‘The Tale of Benjamin Bunny’ whose roots all stemmed from Derwentwater and Fawe Park.

Beatrix Potter went on to use her new found success and fortune to invest in vast amounts of land and property across the Lake District, with her main aim being to demonstrate her passion for conservationism; this included:Troutbeck Farm Park, the Monk Coniston Estate, 4,000 acres from Little Langdale to Coniston, Tarn Hows, Castle Farm and Hill Top – from which seven of her later books were based around; both Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers lived on Hill Top and it is now the most visited literary shrine in the Lake District.

Beatrix Potter truly did leave her mark on the landscape, when she died on the 22nd December 1943, aged 77, Beatrix Potter left £211,636, 14 farms and 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust, together with her flock of 25,000 Herdwick sheep. She donated many of her watercolours and drawings of fungi, mosses and fossils to the Armitt Library in Ambleside and the office of her husband William Heelis went on to become the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter Gallery.

This was Beatrix Potter’s gift to her favourite place, she gave her own little piece of countryside for everyone after her to enjoy. The Lake District is a flourishing Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just waiting to be explored! Whilst you're there don’t forget to visit the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction at Windemere.

Illustration by Beatrix Potter” by Sofi

Posted by Hayley on 29th November 2016