Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's Farmhouse, Near Sawrey, Lake District

"It is as nearly perfect a little place as I ever lived in, and such nice old-fashioned people in the village" ~ Beatrix Potter

We don't go abroad for our holidays. We always go to the Lake District as we love it so much we don't feel a need to go anywhere else. And every time I am in the Lake District I always think of the acclaimed artists from the past who lived and work there and who inspire me in many ways, like the Wordsworths and Beatrix Potter. A visit to Beatrix's charming cottage is always a must, and last year I happened to be there on a glorious May afternoon. I was thrilled to find that photography was now allowed inside the house, and that subsequently I am able to create my first blog post on the house around the photos I had taken.
Beatrix, a remarkable Victorian woman, who was not only the famous children's stories writer and illustrator, but also a landowner and a business woman, bought the house with the proceeds of the sales of her first world-renowned children's book "Peter Rabbit". She furnished the cottage with an eclectic mix of objects, which works a treat aesthetically, and proudly made it a home. However, she never actually lived there, but used the farmhouse as a place for work and for entertaining. The house was also an inspiration for her books, and many of her stories settings are based on the real places of the farmhouse, gardens and the village.
I processed the images according to my recent decision to include some black and white images in my work, as well as colour desaturation techniques. Because of the subject matter and the fact that they are all quite contrasty images they all lend themselves quite well to black & white conversion, but I thought I'd be careful with the b&w choice and only convert those images that I felt would look more interesting if not better in b&w.

Hill Top, Beatrix's late 17th century farmhouse. She added the wing on the left and extended the house to the rear. It was originally whitewashed like much of the village, but Beatrix changed it to grey render to give the old and new sections of the building a uniform look.

The entrance door opens into the hall, traditionally called "firehouse", the heart of the farmhouse where cooking and eating took place.

Beatrix's hat and clogs are on display in the hall. 

The parlour, which was once the main bedroom, with its marvellous mixture of different woods.

A corner of the hall with a spinning wheel and American rocking chair

The larder or buttery where food and utensils were kept.

Not sure which room I took this photo in; I believe it was the landing. I am not able to find out any info about the painting either, but I like the antithetical look of the dramatic landscape and calming flowers.

The writing bureau  in the New Room with the famous illustrated letter Beatrix penned in 1893 to Noel Moore, the young son of her friend Anne. "I don't know what to write to you", says Beatrix in the letter, "so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were....Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." And that is how the tale of Peter Rabbit was born.

New Room in the new wing Beatrix added on at the back of the house which she used for writing and drawing. Being above the kitchen, it was probably the warmest place in the house.

Another writing and drawing corner in the New Room

Treasure Room, as Beatrix called it, her cabinet of curiosity, where she kept her pottery, porcelain and pictures, with a mid-nineteenth century ebonized cabinet

A corner of Beatrix's bedroom showing lovely William Morris's "Daisy" pattern wallpaper and an unusual asymmetric chest of drawers made of Japanese lacquer panels.

Hill Top from the vegetable garden

In mid distance there is The Old Post Office which appears in "The Tale of The Pie and The Patty-Pan", and the white house in the background is Castle Cottage where Beatrix lived with her husband William Heelis, just across the road from Hill Top.

Tower Bank Arms - the lovely rustic local pub which was used as one of the locations in "The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck".

The charming village of Near Sawrey where many locations were used for Beatrix's children's tales. In the distance there is the stone Anvil Cottage, one of the settings in "The Tale of Samuel Whiskers".

The red post box in the heart of the village

Self service logs for sale - you need them in the evenings even at this time of year! A scene taken on the north-west end of the village.

Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, the former offices of W.H. Heelis and Son solicitors where Beatrix's husband worked. Beatrix set her story "The Tale of The Pie and The Patty Pan" around the building and adjoining cottage to the right.

The first post on Beatrix and Hill Top I created back in 2011. It contains my personal digital artwork tribute to Beatrix which I am very proud of. It is one of my images with most views on the internet.

I will be back in the Lakes in a couple of months; we have rented a cottage in Hawkshead and will be arriving incidentally on Beatrix's birthday, 28th July. Summer will be in full swing meaning it will be a good time to take pictures of gardens, so I decided this time I shall concentrate on photographing Beatrix's flower and vegetable gardens, the orchard and generally the farmhouse surroundings.

Here is some Beatrix Potter Literature (other than her tales) I enjoyed very much and highly recommend:

1 comment: