on October 15, 2012
Hill TopBeatrix Potter’s HomeNr SawleyLA22 0LFLast time we came up to this part of the world it was in early December and all the National Trust properties were closed so we decided then and there that we would come up before they all shut down for winter. I wanted to see some of the places connected to Beatrix Potter. I have loved her books since I was a child and still have my childhood copies. I also wanted to see places connected to Wordsworth and so this was our itinerary basis for this visit.The former farm house was bought by Beatrix Potter as an adult and thus is where she created most if her beautifully illustrated books. When visiting this property you need to park in the clearly signed car park which is free but fairly small so I would imagine a visit in the summer would be a real challenge. It was empty when we arrived and packed by the time we left and that was in October so out of season and out of school holiday times.Once you park you need to go to the ticket office to buy your ticket even if you are a National trust member you still need to get a ticket as entry is in timed blocks so that tiny house is never too crowded to allow visitors to move around and see what is there.PRICES AND OPENING TIMESThis property is closed from the end of October through to early March and it is not open on Fridays. On the day it is open you can visit from 10 am or 10.30 through to 5pm or 4.30 so it would be advisable to check if you are planning a visit . The website always has the opening times for each week updated.Adults are £8, children £4 and a family ticket costs £20 and you get a discount when visiting the Beatrix Potter gallery in Hawkshead Village.If you are a National trust member then entry to both places is free.IN THE VILLAGEAs you walk up from the car park up to Hilltop you pass several sights which starred in some of Potter’s books. The map that you are given with your ticket shows these clearly so have a look as you make your way up to the house or if you are close to your entry time check them out as you walk back.I will point them out going from the car park up to the house. The first of these sights is ‘Anvil Cottage which is used by Potter in the ‘Tale of Samuel Whiskas’ and opposite this cottage is another white cottage which is the inspiration for ‘Ginger and Pickles Shop’ in ‘Ginger and Pickles. Between these two cottages on the opposite side if the road is the local post box which Potter incorporated into ‘Peter rabbit’s Almanac’. The pub known as the ‘Tower Bank Arms featured in ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck’ while ‘The Old Post Office ‘ was seen illustrated in ‘The Tale of the Pie and the Patty –Pan’. Lastly a little gate just near the entry to the Hilltop house was in ‘The Tale of Tom kitten.’THE SHOPThis is the first place you come to as you enter the Hilltop property and you can either ignore it or visit it before you go into the house or on your way out again. We actually went in after the house visit but as it is first I will comment on the shop first. This is pretty tiny but does have a huge range of Beatrix Potter books, collectables and even has the tiny figurines about a cm high which I was very taken with until I saw they cost about £80 each. There were toys and postcard, ice cream and dvds and books as well as guide books and more. While we were there ‘Miss Potter’ was showing on the TV screen in the shop. I still haven’t seen that so I must get hold of a copy somewhere cheaper than in this shop.THE GARDENThis reminded me of Mr McGregor’s garden in ‘Peter Rabbit’ with large flag stone pathway leading up to Hilltop House. There are all the traditional English border and perennials as well as vegetables and herbs in different parts of the garden. As you are walking back down from the house down the path furthest from the road on the right hand side are fields. In the fields we spotted lots of wild rabbits relaxing and looking perfectly at ease with no fear of being disturbed. I did wonder how much of the NT garden they helped themselves to once the visitors had left.HILLTOPYou are greeted at the door and the guide tells you that the house is self guided and you are free to walk around throughout the house. You are asked not to wear high heels that might damage the floors or touch any of the artefacts as they are all authentic Beatrix Potter owned furniture and possessions.The room you come into is a front parlour with a dresser, a fire place and a central table. On the window shelf is a basket with some of her books open on specific pages showing scenes in the books painted in the room. This was the same in all the rooms each had books open on specific pages showing scenes set in that specific room.The tiny kitchen was pretty hard to see in as it was roped off and you could only poke your head around but it looked pretty old fashioned and not a kitchen I would want to cook in.Making your way upstairs you become very aware of how wealthy Beatrix Potter’s family had been as her father was a close friend of Millais the painter and there was one of his paintings signed on the wall. Around the walls on the landing were several other paintings some by Beatrix Potter and others by other artists known to the family.The room on the right as you get to the top of the stairs has a small round table in the middle and huge rather ugly paintings on the wall which were apparently the creation of Beatrix Potter’s brother. I have to say they were dark and rather depressing landscapes and not my taste at all.Beatrix Potter’s bedroom had a small farmhouse four poster bed with canopy and handmade patchwork quilt. The bed looked small but we were told it was pretty much the same size as a standard double today. The view from the window looked out over the fields and was a pretty pleasant view.The other bedroom was set up as another sort of drawing room and had Beatrix Potter paintings and illustrations which were much more to my taste. All around were little signs with snippets of information about the lady and her work which was interesting to read but so much to take in that I can’t remember all of them. Anyway it would spoil your enjoyment if I told you everything in the house.You were not allowed to take photos inside at all but you could buy postcards showing the inside of a few rooms in the shop.The house is tiny and so those with disability or mobility issues including children in pushchairs would find considerable difficulty inside the house. Pushchairs are not allowed inside and a wheel chair may get in the downstairs room but upstairs would be out altogether.There are toilets outside the house but I can’t tell you what they were like as I didn’t notice them while we were there and we went for a coffee down near the car at Sawley’s Cafe park and used those facilities instead.If you are in anyway interested in Beatrix Potter then you should pay this house a visit. It was lovely to see the books of my childhood open in the rooms where they were created. Her work is such an English institution and so iconic. Apparently Beatrix potter books are used in Japan to teach children English which is why her books and characters are so popular with Japanese people. According to the NT guide 25% of visitors to Beatrix Potter’s house and the gallery are Japanese which is a pretty large percentage when you think of how many nations visit our country and of course a lot of Brits visit this area as well.
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