Saturday, May 19, 2007
A Visit to Hill Top
We have been back from Lancashire for several days but life is very busy at the moment and I haven't had time to read blogs or to write in my own. It looks like staying that way for a while too, summer involves much more coming and going than the stay at home winter months and postings are likely to be sporadic over the next couple of weeks. The photo above is the outside of Beatrix Potter's house Hill Top. It was extraordinarily difficult to get a photograph without people in it as it's very popular with visitors thanks to the film 'Miss Potter'. It is only a small place so visitors are given timed tickets and about a dozen people go in every five minutes. There is no limit on how long you can stay once you are in though so every room is crowded and, to be honest, I didn't particularly enjoy it. The National Trust have a way of de-personalizing places and, even though all the contents belonged to Beatrix Potter and Hill Top is just as she left it when she died, it feels more like a museum than a home. This isn't inevitable when somewhere is open to the public, I've been in places which felt as though someone had just left the room and would be back any minute. Of course in the case of Hill Top it is true that after her marriage Beatrix didn't live here, she did visit it every day and still did her writing here but perhaps that is the explanation of the lack of atmosphere.
This pretty little building is one of the outhouses - the privy I rather think.
The path leading up through the garden to Hill Top,the garden was very pretty and appealed to me very much. There was quite a lot that you couldn't actually get into though, the vegetable garden(below) was only viewable over the gate and the small orchard was also off limits.
Another thing that really irritates me about the National Trust is that they won't allow any photographs to be taken of the interiors of their properties so all I can offer is photographs from a book I have on Beatrix Potter called 'Beatrix Potter At Home in the Lake District' by Susan Denyer. It's a very interesting book with a great many photographs - well worth buying if you are interested in Beatrix Potter. The photo above is of the room you go into as you go through the front door. I know it actually looks very attractive and homely but it has been set up especially for the photo! The only similar thing that I saw was that the fire was lit in the range.
These are the stairs leading to the upper floor, I find this very attractive with the bare polished wood. It's just occurred to me what part of the problem is with NT properties, it's their obsession with light levels which makes everywhere dark and gloomy because there are always blinds shutting out some or all of the light. I know that bright sunlight does fade things and that they need protection but I really do think that the NT go over the top with this.
This is the staircase in an illustration from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, Beatrix used Hill Top and it's furnishings a good deal as a basis for her illustrations.
This is the main bedroom with the bed that Beatrix Potter never slept in! When she was living here before her marriage she did use this bedroom but with a different bed.
This is the room where Beatrix did her writing at the desk in the corner.
The road which runs through the village of Near Sawrey, just a short distance from Hill Top.
This is Castle Cottage which is where Beatrix Potter lived after her marriage to William Heelis. I took the photo from an upstairs window at Hill Top.
The Beatrix Potter Gallery is in this building in Hawkshead which was originally the offices of the country solicitor's practice in which William Heelis was a partner. I enjoyed looking round here, it was quite atmospheric and had a lovely display of some of the original watercolours done for the books. There were a lot from The Tale of Tom Kitten as that particular book is 100 years old this year. There were only 3 or 4 other people there and it had much more of the quiet,peaceful feel that I would guess Hill Top had once upon a time. L and Mr B.Baggins strolled around the village while I was in there. Afterwards we went into a pub called The King's Head for some lunch - outside it had a notice saying 'Dogs Welcome' which is a very nice change from 'No Dogs Allowed'! Mr Baggins made himself at home, stretching full length in front of the fire and wagging his tail furiously as people stepped over him saying things like' what a lovely dog' and 'isn't he well behaved'. Meantime I was thinking things like 'I can't believe he's being this good' while smiling and trying to look modest:):)
Two books that I bought in the Gallery, both full of interesting bits and pieces.
A row of cottages in Hawkshead.
A view across Lake Windermere with the fells in the distance.
Another view of Windermere, both these were taken when we stopped in Ambleside.
There were dozens of swans on the lake and this is one of them. We had a really nice day in the Lake District in spite of a dire weather forecast, it was dry and pleasantly warm all day and only started to rain just as we got back to our house.