<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

The Lake District celebrates the Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday

PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 July 2016

The World of Beatrix Potter in bowness

The World of Beatrix Potter in bowness

© Ben Barden Photography Ltd. 2010

A host of events are planned in the Lake District to make the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. Mike Glover reports

Beatrix Potter aged 15 with family spaniel, Spot at Hilltop Beatrix Potter aged 15 with family spaniel, Spot at Hilltop

FROM a new Alan Ayckbourn play to appearing on a 50p piece, the world appears to have gone Peter Rabbit mad. But it is the role of his creator Beatrix Potter as a pioneer of conservation and farming which lies behind most of the celebrations in her beloved Lake District.

The Beatrix Potter Society and the National Trust are organising special programmes of events to commemorate her 150th birthday on July 28th.

Neither has forgotten that her family made their money in the Lancashire mills and she helped create the National Trust’s foothold in the Lake District from her base on the Lancashire side of Windermere.

The much-loved storyteller and illustrator of classic children’s books bequeathed more than 4,000 acres of land, 14 farms and numerous cottages to the Trust.

Near Sawrey Village, Windermere Near Sawrey Village, Windermere

Without her, it would not be caring for about a quarter of the Lake District today. ‘The main aim is to celebrate who she was and what she did,’ says the Trust’s south Lakes general manager, John Moffat, who has spent three years planning the celebration. ‘Most people get to Beatrix Potter through Peter Rabbit, which is fine, but we want them to learn what came before her books – her life as a scientist – and what came after: her life as a farmer, her love of Herdwick sheep and her conservationism.

‘Then at the end of her life came the bequest to the National Trust – not the usual historic stately home with gardens, but farms and outlands and farmers’ cottages. It is still one of the biggest bequests we have ever had.’

Beatrix bought her 17th century farmhouse at Hill Top, Near Sawrey, with royalties from her ‘little books’ in 1905 and it became her inspiration and her studio, filled with antique oak furniture and treasured china and curios.

The Trust is running ‘showcase tours’ where visitors can enjoy exclusive, after-hours access with a curated look at the house and the chance to get up close to its treasures.

A rare glimpse of Castle Cottage, Near Sawrey, where Beatrix spent her married years as Mrs Heelis, is to be opened by its tenant on July 8 and 28. It is not normally open and the tours are described as ‘deeply personal’.

Hawkshead’s Beatrix Potter Gallery, where her husband, country solicitor William Heelis had his office, is hosting the exhibition, Romance & Realism, until October. It explores her early and enduring love of the natural world. Highlights include original drawings from classics such as The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, excerpts from her coded journal and precious sketchbooks.

Meanwhile, at Allan Bank in Grasmere, an exhibition is shedding light on the inspiration the author drew from her friendship with Canon Rawnsley, one of the Trust’s founders. Beyond Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter’s Inspiration runs until Christmas.

The storyteller’s ‘lifelong love affair’ with the Northern Lakes is also to be evoked at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth from July 16 to October 30 with the spotlight on the characters Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny and Mrs Tiggy-winkle, as captured in her Derwentwater sketchbook.

In addition to Trust activities, the Beatrix Potter Society is pushing the boat out. The tenant of Castle Cottage, Mr and Mrs Heelis’s actual home, is Mandy Marshall, who is also sales manager of the Society. She runs a handbag and accessory company which uses worsted wool from Herdwick fleeces, an act of entrepreneurship of which Miss Potter would surely have approved.

The Society’s annual conference is being held in the first week of July at Burnside Hotel, Bowness. But they are organising bus tours of Manchester, Liverpool and other centres of Beatrix Potter’s ancestry and links with the textile trade. The Society will also be involved in the events at Castle Cottage.

Another iconic farmhouse forever associated with her is Yew Tree Farm near Coniston. She bought it for the National Trust and it doubled as Hill Top in the film, Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger.

The current tenant farmer is Jon Watson, who cares for more than 700 acres of traditional hill farm with up to 400 Herdwicks, 40 belted Galloway cattle, assorted poultry, five dogs and three cats.

He and his partner, animal artist Jo McGrath, are putting on an eight-day exhibition in the famous barn, with its distinctive ‘spinning gallery’, from July 2 to 9. It will feature Herdwick drawings, paintings and photographs with Jo’s work will be joined by that of landscape painter David Sims.

‘People are not so aware of her role as a farmer and her part in the preservation of Herdwick sheep, so that is the aspect we are focusing on,’ said Jo. On the two Saturdays there will be tours of the parts of Yew Tree Barn which still contain furniture, letters and artworks donated by Beatrix to allow the original tenants to raise money to pay the rent.

Appropriately The World Of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness and National Trust properties in The Lakes were the first places in the country you could receive a special Peter Rabbit 50p coin in your change – minted to mark Beatrix Potter’s 150th anniversary. It is the first time a children’s book character has appeared on a British coin of the realm.

The World of Beatrix Potter is also the home of the Old Laundry Theatre which will be hosting Alan Ayckbourn’s specially commissioned children’s show, Where’s Peter Rabbit, from June 27 to September 4, 2016.

It promises to reflect Miss Potter’s wicked sense of humour, needed for handling the often brutal tales of nature, red in tooth and claw.

So although the show will feature puppets, in the style of Lion King, some children may be surprised to find it exploring the darker side of Miss Potter’s otherwise bucolic tales. So whether it is on stage, on canvas, on land or on the page, it will be difficult to escape Beatrix Potter this month.

For full information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatrixpotter and beatrixpottersociety.org.uk. For events in Bowness go to www.hop-skip-jump.com and www.oldlaundrytheatre.co.uk.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wed, 00:00

Celebrate the historic waterways of Lancashire with one of these canalside walks that allow you to enjoy the countryside and witness echoes the the county’s industrial past.

Read more
Canals
Tue, 00:00

Their football clubs both wear navy blue and white strips, but how well can you identify landmarks in Bolton and Preston?

Read more
Preston Bolton Quiz
Friday, January 12, 2018

Spring is not too far off and that’s the time when the birds start getting noisier in our woodlands. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates a couple of the stars of the Dawn Chorus.

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John Lenehan selects a relatively gentle walk to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Monday, January 8, 2018

This proud Lancashire town is shaking off the impact of recession and looking forward to a brighter future, writes Angela Kelly

Read more
Bolton

History is all around you in Cockermouth, but the town has a bustling present and an exciting future too.

Read more
Cockermouth
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Stonyhurst College houses the oldest surviving museum collection in the English speaking world.

Roger Borrell reports

Read more
Stonyhurst
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Whether you’re horse crazy or just along for the ride, equine related events are an important part of the social calendar

Read more
Equestrian
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The 50th anniversary of this unique Bolton theatre will involve the creation of a new centre for the performing arts. Angela Kelly reports

Read more
Bolton
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It’s been an action packed year in Lancashire, how much of it can you remember?

Read more
Quiz
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Usually when we are talking about new sightings of birds in Lancashire, we are referring to the ‘little brown jobs’, which are difficult to recognise.

Read more
Brockholes
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

John Lenehan crosses the paths of witches and Romans in a spectaular walk that’s perfect for a dry winter’s day

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas seems even more appealing in a beautiful rural location, as Mike Glover and photographer Sandy Kitchin discovered

Read more
Grasmere Christmas
Thursday, November 30, 2017

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Christmas Quiz
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search