Beatrix Potter 

 The tale of Beatrix Potter...


Mrs Heelis is better known as Beatrix Potter. No visitor to the Lakes, especially one who has just come over on the Windermere ferry, should miss her home.

Hill Top is an unpretentious farm cottage in the village of Neat Sawrey, less than two miles from the lake. Around seventy thousand visitors come to Hill Top every year, despite the efforts of the National trust, the owners of the property, who are trying to restrict numbers (it is open only from April till October). The cottage is just too small to cater for all those who want to see where the creator of Peter Rabbit once lived. It is also the farm where Jemima Puddle-Duck lived.

Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866. Both her parents had inherited Lancashire cotton fortunes. Her grandfather had been a self-made cotton tycoon, and was at one time Liberal MP for Carlisle, but Beatrixs parents considered they had moved away from such things as trade and industry, never soiling their hands with any actual work. Beatrix was kept at home living her life in the nursery quarters, under the care of governess.

 

The one bright spot in her year was their annual holiday, Mr potter complete with family, tons of luggage and lots of servants, would decamp for three months to a rented house in Scotland or the Lake District. They didn't take little country cottages but grand residents such as Wray Castle on the shores of Windermere. Beatrix would bring back pet animals from her summer idyll, rabbits and hedge hogs and keep them with her in her bedroom in Kensington. She gave them names like Peter Rabbit or Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.

One summer during their stay at Wray Castle, they became family friends of Canon Rawnsley, then vicar of Wray, one of Lakelands earliest and greatest activists. Canon was one of the few people in Beatrixs family circle who enthused about her interest in nature and animals and actively encouraged her to draw. It was he she turned to for advice when she thought of printing, at her own expense, a book for children called The Tale of Peter Rabbit.