24th May 2016
“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were–Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter. ” – Beatrix Potter
Growing up, generations of children have read these words and imagined four little rabbits and their adventures as well as characters such as Jemima Puddle- Duck. Now, 150 years after her birth, Beatrix is a character we all want to know better- imagining her sitting in her cottage, with views of the lake district, writing stories that would stand the test of time- today, all this time after her stories were written, one of her books is still sold ever 15 seconds.
A few months ago, we were lucky enough to go visit the home she loved so much- Hill Top. Growing up in London, Beatrix felt more at home on family holidays in the northern countryside, and eventually bought Hill Top with royalties she’d earned from The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It was in this house she wrote 13 of her 23 books, and where many of her famous scenes are set- so walking round the house you can really imagine Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter scampering about on their little adventures!
Growing up in what was usual of a middle class Victorian upbringing, she was mainly encased in her third floor nursery, and had little outside contact as her mother discouraged friendships with other children, claiming Beatrix and her brother Bertram would ‘catch germs.’ This allowed her imagination to grow, and her skills with art and observing nature flourished which later would help her to bring her characters to life.
Despite living a rural life full of farming with her house being described as ‘practical,’ there is a beauty about the house, every antique, piece of furniture and trinket meant something to her, the wallpaper upstairs in the bedroom is adorned with the beautiful Daisy design by William Morris- showing she truly did enjoy the finer things in life; in moderation.
We wonder if she ever met Morris himself- her father Rupert was very close to John Everett Millais, one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood members, of whom Morris had close contact. If any of our readers know more on this, please do let us know!
If you haven’t visited the National Trust property of Beatrix Potter, and your imagination is itching to run wild- it’s well worth a visit; say hello to Peter and the gang for us!