St-Michaels

Sawrey and Beyond

Hereward visits Near Sawrey, home of Beatrix Potter, and takes a ramble through the villages that inspired the illustrations in her Peter Rabbit tales.

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The village of Near Sawrey.  The distant views of the mountains, the buttercup-laced fields and the stone and slate houses, all form the picturesque backdrop to Beatrix Potter’s tales.

Hill Top in the village of Near Sawrey is the house most associated with Beatrix Potter.  It is now owned by the National Trust and contains much of its original furniture and fittings. 

In fact, Beatrix spent very little time here and after only a few years moved to a bigger property elsewhere in Near Sawrey.

Both house and garden feature in a number of Beatrix Potter’s famous tales.  Most notably, the interior makes several appearances in The Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

The rubharb patch where Jemima Puddle-Duck tried to hide her eggs.

The garden and its gate feature in the tale of the unruly Tom Kitten and his sisters.  The house doubles as the home of Tom and his mother Tabitha Twitchit.

Hill Top was a working farm.  Beatrix built this annexe on to the side of the original cottage to accommodate the tenant farmer.

NearSawrey

Many of the houses in the village make an appearance in the stories.

Buckle Yeat is clearly illustrated in the Tale of Tom Kitten.  The colourful front garden may also have inspired the picture of Duchess’ garden in The Tale of the Pie and The Patty Pan

The decorative arch over the door of the old Post Office doubles as the door belonging to Duchess

No longer recognisable but this was the location of the village shop that appears in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles

The village pub, the Tower Bank Arms, backs onto the garden of Hill Top.  The pub features prominently in The Tale of Jemima Pudde-Duck

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The countryside around Near Sawrey is gentle compared to much of the rugged topography in the Lake District.  Nearby, lying in the bottom of the meadows is Esthwaite Water, a peaceful lake and the setting for The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.

The nearest village of any size is Hawkshead.  This village with its curious nooks and passageways was used to illustrate The Tale of The Pie and The Patty Pan.  It was also the location of the solicitors office of William Heelis, who became Beatrix’s husband.

The distinctive Langdale Pikes sometimes make an appearance in the background of Beatrix’s illustrations.

The church of St. Michaels stands on the hill above the village

Beneath the church stands the tiny white-washed Grammar school, famous for being the site of William Wordsworth’s early education

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Anne Tyson’s cottage where Wordsworth is said to have stayed while at school in Hawkshead.  In fact, it is a myth; he stayed in nearby Colthouses

The Bend or Bump house, so called because of the warning sign over its low front door.  Actually, for fans of Beatrix Potter, it is much more famous for being the shop owned by Tabitha Twitchit and visited by her Cousin Ribby.

Next to the ‘shop’ is the former solicitors office of William Heelis, now the Beatrix Potter Gallery

Grandy Nook, another famous Hawkshead landmark.  Beneath the arch Cousin Ribby and the Duchess passed each other, but with impeccable Victorian etiquette they only bowed to one another; they did not speak, because they were going to have a party

One of several little squares in Hawkshead, this one just the other side of the arch from Grandy Nook

In some of her earlier stories, such as Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Peter Rabbit himself, the illustrations were inspired by locations further afield, notably around Derwentwater.  It is a tribute to Beatrix Potter’s skill and imagination that such simple stories can so successfully capture the unique beauty and essence of the Lakeland landscape.  In some ways, the fascination we now hold for the Lake District is attributable to her.

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Newlands Valley, home of Mrs Tiggywinkle

Derwentwater.  The wooded shores and islands were the home of Squirrel Nutkin and his friends.

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