Places to Visit
If you are interested in Beatrix Potter as a natural historian and artist, you may like to visit some of these locations:
UK – Scotland
Few people realise the importance and influence of Scotland on Beatrix Potter’s life. As a child Beatrix and her family enjoyed long summer holidays in the Birnam area of Perthshire. Staying in the countryside, away from the more formal life they led in London, Beatrix and her young brother, Bertram, were able to study the local wildlife. It was from Eastwood, Dunkeld, in 1893 that Beatrix wrote the now famous picture letter to Noel Moore which was later to become The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The following day she wrote a letter to Noel’s brother, Eric, about a frog called Jeremy Fisher. People she had met there on holiday inspired the loveable characters of Mrs. Tiggy-winkle and
Mr. Jeremy Fisher.
Beatrix Potter is renowned not only as an author and illustrator, but also as an eminent scientist. During her time in the Birnam area she met and formed a special friendship with Charles McIntosh – the Perthshire Naturalist – sharing a mutual interest in fungi and wildlife.
The Birnam Institute, Exhibition Centre and Garden, Station Road, Birnam, Perthshire
The Birnam Institute houses a wonderful exhibition telling the tale of the ‘Fascinating acquaintance’ between Beatrix and Charles McIntosh. The nearby Beatrix Potter Garden recreates the lovely countryside which so impressed the young Beatrix, and features flowers, fungi and model characters associated with her relationship with the area. Footpaths lead past the houses of Mr. Tod and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, alongside the stream and pond where Mr. Jeremy Fisher lives and past Peter Rabbit’s burrow.
www.birnaminstitute.com email@example.com 01350 727674
Dunkeld, Birnam, Inver and The Hermitage, (National Trust for Scotland) Perthshire
This is the area where Charles McIntosh lived and where Beatrix and he met when she was staying at Dalguise House. Maps and leaflets for self-guided walks are available from the Tourist Information Centre (01350 727688) and the National Trust for Scotland’s Ell Shop (01350 728641), both of which are in the centre of the village of Dunkeld. The Dunkeld and Birnam Community Archive (in the centre of Dunkeld village) holds some Beatrix Potter related material, in particular photographs.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perthshire
The collection contains twenty-five of Beatrix Potter’s watercolour studies of fungi, as well as specimens, correspondence and memorabilia belonging to Charles McIntosh. Appointments are necessary to view items not on permanent display.
www.pkc.gov.uk firstname.lastname@example.org 01738 632488
UK – Cumbria
The name of Beatrix Potter is firmly linked with the English Lake District, and with Sawrey and Hawkshead in particular, for it was in this beautiful part of England that she wrote many of her children’s books and here that she spent the last thirty years of her life, having married solicitor William Heelis in 1913.
Beatrix Potter Gallery, Main Street, Hawkshead, Cumbria LA22 0NS
Step inside this charming old building to enjoy an exhibition of Beatrix Potter’s original drawings and watercolours. A visit here provides not just the chance to admire her delightful artwork but also the opportunity to learn more about her life outside the writing career which made her famous. Learn more about Beatrix as a farmer and conservationist, and how her legacy helped to keep the Lake District as we know today. This gallery has an interesting history too, because it was previously the office of Beatrix’s husband William Heelis – plus it gives a rare opportunity to see inside one of Hawkshead’s old buildings.
The Lingholm Estate, Portinscale, Keswick CA12 5TZ
The Kitchen, Gift Shop and Walled garden sits within the beautiful Lingholm Estate on Derwent Water. The octagonal walled garden at Lingholm is open to visitors daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The garden has an outdoor gallery dedicated to the works Beatrix did while staying at Lingholm, a Potter holiday home between 1885 and 1907. The original garden that Beatrix knew and sketched (the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden) was changed completely before the first world war. David Seymour, the owner of the estate, researched the history of the property in Beatrix’s time and has gone to great lengths to put it back as it was.
Wray Castle, Low Wray, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0JA
This mock-Gothic castle with its turrets and towers sits on the quieter western side of Windermere. It was built in the 1840s for just two people to live in, and was the first Lake District holiday home for Beatrix Potter and her family in 1882.
You can explore the castle and its grounds in all weather. Find your way from the grand living spaces to the narrow winding passages used by the servants. The rooms are empty of the original furniture, but photographs taken by Beatrix’s father help you to imagine nineteenth-century life. The grounds are informally laid out round the castle and contain a boathouse and jetty.
There are children’s activity rooms inside the castle, and daily tours are given to explain the castle’s varied history. The garden trail includes a mulberry tree reputedly planted by Wordsworth.
Make the journey to the castle part of the visit by taking the boat from Ambleside or Brockhole.
Dogs are welcome in the grounds on leads, but only assistance dogs are allowed inside. A large print guide is available, and there is a cafe serving snacks.
The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3BX
An annually changing exhibition brings Beatrix Potter’s characters and settings to life, with videos telling her life story and featuring in particular her connections with the National Trust.
The Armitt Collection,
Rydal Road, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9BL
FOUNDED BY POETS, ARTISTS, AND WRITERS AS THE QUINTESSENCE OF THE CULTURAL LAKE DISTRICT, THE ARMITT IS ONE OF BRITAIN’S RAREST SMALL MUSEUMS
Beatrix Potter was a member of the Armitt almost from its founding in 1912. She was a major benefactor, and to it she bequeathed over 400 of her exquisite natural history paintings, together with her personal first edition copies of her little books.
The Museum now hosts a permanent exhibition about her life that is guaranteed to fascinate anyone. The Library contains a large collection of Beatrix’s fungi, natural history and archaeological watercolours and drawings. Appointments are necessary to view items not on permanent display.
UK – London and the South
The museum holds a large collection of Beatrix Potter’s watercolours (including her childhood sketchbooks), photographs and letters. Appointments are necessary to view the many items not on public display. Contact the Frederick Warne Curator.
This historic building, on which Beatrix Potter based her illustrations of the tailor’s house, is situated close to Gloucester Cathedral, and was painted by her when she visited the city. She used a local story about a tailor who tried to finish a magnificent waistcoat for the Mayor’s wedding one Christmas Day as the basis for The Tailor of Gloucester, which she wrote and had privately published after completing The Tale of Peter Rabbit and which she later acknowledged as her personal favourite.
Melford Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk CO10 9AA
One of East Anglia’s most celebrated Elizabethan houses, now in the care of the National Trust, has changed little externally since 1578 and has an original panelled banqueting hall. It has been the home of the Hyde Parker family since 1786. Beatrix Potter was related to this family and visited them on several occasions, and there is a small collection of Potter memorabilia. Beatrix painted many fine scenes inside the house and in the surrounding gardens.
United States of America
In the Rare Book Department there is a good collection of original Beatrix Potter drawings and watercolours and also some letters, first editions, Peter Rabbit piracies, ephemera, and a reference section. There is not always an extensive display of items on public view, so contact the library for an appointment.
www.freelibrary.org email via the website 215-686-5322
Cotsen Children’s Library, 1 Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08544
An extensive collection of Beatrix Potter material was presented to Princeton by Lloyd E Cotsen. Cotsen donated the funds to create the children’s library, which is a unit within the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Princeton University Library.
In an essay for the collection’s lavishly illustrated catalogue, Judy Taylor, an expert on Potter, wrote, ‘There are many people in many places who now collect her work, but Lloyd Cotsen’s Beatrix Potter Collection ranks as probably the best private assemblage outside any major public museum or library.’ Included are first editions of what are known as Potter’s little books, letters to friends and family, manuscripts, artwork, and photographs taken by Potter as well as an album of family photos.
Researchers are strongly advised to contact the Curator in advance of visiting.
Princeton University Library, One Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA
www.princeton.edu/cotsen email via the website 609.258.1470
The Daito Bunka University Beatrix Potter Reference Library 554 Iwadono, Higashi-matsuyama-shi, Saitama, Japan 355-0065
This Beatrix Potter Reference Library was established in the grounds of the Saitama Children’s Zoo by Daito Bunka University in 2006. The building is a replica of Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top in Cumbria, UK, in both size and appearance. There are five rooms in which we display our rare Beatrix Potter collection, including her two privately printed editions, a copy of A Happy Pair (1893), some original watercolours and first edition copies of her twenty-three little books.
www.daito.ac.jp email via the website +81-3-5399-7362