Beatrix Potter Day Out

We have been planning a Beatrix Potter day out, in and around Hawkshead, for ages, and last weekend's beautiful autumnal weather, tempted us up there.

Our first destination was the pretty village of Hawkshead which provided so much inspiration for Beatrix Potter. As a bonus for the day the Beatrix Potter Gallery had an exhibition: The Language of Flowers which explores Beatrix’s relationship with flowers through her art and life. The exhibition invites us to look beyond the characters we love so much, to see the colourful and realistic flowers around them, showing her talent as both an artist and scientist.

We thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and I took the opportunity to show Chris some of my favourite Potter-related locations in the village, especially the shop which provided the inspiration for The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, and Red Lion Yard, the location for The Tale of Johnny Townmouse.

Looking over the houses from Hawkshead churchyard

Next we visited Hill Top. Bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix continued to use Hill Top itself and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her subsequent books, after she and her husband moved to Castle Cottage. Every room has echoes from the wonderful books: Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers, Tabitha Twichitt and the Two Bad Mice.

Outside, the garden was a delight of autumnal colours and flowers. As we walked through Sawrey we passed the Tower Bank Arms, made famous by The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck. 

The Tower Bank Arms in Near Sawrey today…

… and as Beatrix Potter painted it almost 120 years ago

Potter-inspired signpost opposite Hill Top

The front of Hill Top

Quince tree near the front door

Apple tree in the garden

Some flowers were still surviving in October

We travelled back towards Hawkshead, past my favourite lake - Esthwaite - to Wray Castle. Wray Castle, owned by the National Trust, has only been open to the public since 2013. Beatrix Potter first visited in 1882 and it was on this visit that she met Hardwicke Rawnsley and began such an important friendship. The Castle has an exhibition of Rupert Potter's photos and this friendship is captured for posterity.

Currently unfurnished, it is still clear that Wray Castle was a fine house

The floor of the entrance hall

Beautiful ivy detail in the stained glass

Ceiling above the staircase

The weather created beautiful light over Windermere and the nearby trees

The rain approaches

Photograph (taken by Rupert Potter) of the family at Wray Castle in 1882