Hill Top, Near Sawrey
Hill Top had a typical farm/cottage garden when Beatrix Potter bought the house. Hens scratched amongst the cabbages and ducks nested on the rhubarb patch. Neighbours donated cuttings and seeds "I have something out of nearly every garden in the village" Beatrix once said
"Some unbeknownst to the owner as stolen plants always grow".
She also found violets, field daffodils, primroses, wild strawberries and wood anemones along the hedgerows. Some garden plants had survived out of reach of the hens. A lovely Chinese rose, a rampant vine and a large mock orange bush grew against the warm wall that separated the gardens from the Tower Bank Arms Public House. In time, Hill Top garden became much as it is today, except that grass divided the long borders and fronted the house.
"My news is all gardening at present, and supplies. I went to see an old lady at Windermere and impudently took a large basket and trowel with me. She had the most untidy garden I ever saw. I got nice things in handfuls, without any shame, amongst others a bundle of lavender slips ... and another bunch of violet suckers - I am going to set some of them in the orchard ... Mrs. Satterthwaite says stolen plants always grow. I stole some honesty yesterday; it was put to be burnt in a heap of garden refuse! I have had something out of nearly every garden in the village".
Beatrix Potter in a letter to Mille Warne 12 October 1907 regarding the gardens at Hilltop
Beatrix Potter bought this seventeenth century farmhouse and land in 1905 with royalties from her books supplemented by a legacy. The house was never a permanent home, but she made long and frequent stays, stocking the farm and running it through a manager. She wrote and illustrated most of her books from the Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher 1906 onwards here, and returning here to write after she moved to Castle Cottage following her marriage in 1913. Beatrix set six of her books at Hill Top and the house became her personal museum. Many parts of the house and garden were used for illustrations in her books.
In her will she stipulated
The rooms and furnishings ...be kept in their present condition
She left many detailed instructions. Visitors today see the house as if Beatrix has just popped out for a minute.
• The fine traditional cottage garden is easily recognisable as Tabatha Twitchit's Garden illustrated in The Tale of Tom Kitten - 1907. Tom Kitten is staged mostly in Hill Top Garden with an excursion to the village duck pond. Tom and his sisters tidy and dressed for company are turned into the garden among the Pinks, Arum lilies and Canterbury bells, where they create havoc.
• Opposite the front door is the wrought iron art nouveau gate by which Jemima hides her eggs in rhubarb in The Tale of Jemima-Puddleduck 1908. The story begins in Hill Top farmyard before the farm's tenant, Ralph Cannon, finds them in the rhubarb patch. It must be July as, appropriately, foxgloves are everywhere.
Fawe Park, Portinscale, near Keswick
Before she married Lord Vane, Cresida Pemberton Pigot (Lady Vane), lived at Fawe Park with her parents. Lady Inglewood is one of England's foremost garden photographers and has published a book of Beatrix Potter's Gardens, Beatrix Potter's Lakeland and The Englishwoman's Garden.
Beatrix Potter's parents occasionally chose to stay in Keswick and stayed at Fawe Park just once. Beatrix stayed here for the Summer of 1885, her fourth Book The Tale of Benjamin Bunny 1904 was centred almost entirely in the gardens there, particularly the kitchen garden.
The long wall that divides the kitchen from the formal gardens, with its difficult greys and purples that gave Beatrix so much works is still there. With the same view of Derwentwater seen in the picture where Peter and Benjamin look down into Mr. McGregors garden. However, Beatrix said "that it would be in vain to look for Mr. McGregors garden as a firm of landscape gardeners did away with it, and laid it out anew with paved walks etc".
Beatrix wrote to Norman Warne from Fawe Park "I think I have done every imaginable rabbit background and miscellaneous sketches as well - about 70! I hope you will like them, thought rather scribbled". These included five beautiful sketches of onions and five of carnations. Beatrix preferred to paint the everyday things of life - flowers, buckets, flowerpots, onions and baskets - giving them the same meticulous treatment as she did the rabbits and the cat.
Fawe Park is a private residence and not open to the public.
Lingholm, Portinscale, Keswick
Lingholm is a large Victorian house with formal gardens and groves of rhododendrons and azaleas and exotic trees sweeping down to Derwentwater shore. The Potters spent several holidays here in the 1890's. In the summer of 1903 Beatrix Potter painted backgrounds for the Tale of Benjamin Bunny here and it also was the background for two of Beatrix's most loved books - The Tales of Squirrel Nutkin and Mrs. TiggyWinkle. Details used included the pear tree, the lettuce bed and the red brick garden wall.
Graythwaite Hall, Windermere
The extensive woods around the hall were a favourite haunt of the young William Wordsworth and for Beatrix Potter. The woods were immortalised in the poem Nutting. The poem arose out of his memories of gathering hazelnuts. They also provided settings for Beatrix Potter's The Fairy Caravan when Pony Billy is shown trotting through the woods, startled by roe deer and the strange dwarf like figures of the Oakmen (miniature versions of the charcoal burners who worked here).
Peter RabbitTM Garden at the World of Beatrix Potter
The Peter RabbitTM Garden allows visitors outside the attraction into a wonderful evocation of the kitchen and cottage gardens of the Peter Rabbit stories, complete with gooseberry bushes, fruit trees and of course rows of lettuces and carrots. The garden is organic and only uses plants known to Beatrix Potter.