Beatrix Potter fell in love with The Lake District and farming. In 1905 she bought Hill Top, her first farm, and after her death she bequeathed fifteen farms and over 4,000 acres to the National Trust – a gift which protected and conserved the unique Lake District countryside.

Garden at Hill Top / The Beatrix Potter Society

It started with Hill Top Farm

In 1905 Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Farm, a small working farm in Near Sawrey, a Lake District village then in Lancashire. The farm became her sanctuary, a place where she could come to paint and write as well as learn farm management. Some of Beatrix Potter’s best books, such as The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907), The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908) and The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (1908), reflect her delight in the old farmhouse and in farming life.

Four years later, in 1909, Beatrix purchased Castle Farm, a second property in Sawrey just across the road from Hill Top farm. Her ambition to own land in the Lake District and to preserve it from development was encouraged by William Heelis, a local solicitor.

In 1913, at the age of forty-seven, Beatrix Potter married Heelis and moved into Castle Cottage on Castle Farm.

Herdwick sheep

Becoming deeply involved in the community, Beatrix Potter served on committees to improve rural living, opposed hydroplanes on Lake Windermere and developed a passion for breeding and raising Herdwick sheep. In 1923 she bought Troutbeck Park, an enormous but disease-ridden sheep farm which she restored to agricultural health. She became one of the most admired Herdwick breeders in the region and won prizes at all the local shows.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association in March 1943, Beatrix was elected President from March 1944. She would have been the first woman President of the Association. Unfortunately she died before she could take this role.

Farms owned by Beatrix Potter

The National Trust and Beatrix Potter

The Heelises were also enthusiastic supporters of land conservation and early benefactors of the National Trust. In 1930 Beatrix Potter became de facto land agent for the Trust, managing some of their farms, as well as her own, over a vast section of the Lake District. From 1905 until 1930 she bought several farms in The Lake District. In her will she left them to The National Trust. All of these farms Beatrix Potter left are still working farms managed by National Trust tenant farmers, in accordance with her wishes.

You can visit some of them, like Hill Top or Yew Tree Farm.

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Yew Tree Farm / The Beatrix Potter Society

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These books supply more information about the art, interests and writing of Beatrix Potter.

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