When at the age of 47, Beatrix Potter married William Heelis, a solicitor, she married in to a family that had long been established in Hawkshead, although different to how it is portrayed in the film, Miss Potter, Beatrix did not actually know William Heelis from childhood.
William Heelis like his father and grandfather before him, worked from a 17th century cottage office, next to Bend-or-Bump cottage, in Hawkshead, initially serving the local community as land surveyors.
It was at one time the law office of Potter’s husband, William Heelis. Its interior remains substantially unaltered.
Today, that office has been converted in to a gallery displaying a good selection of Beatrix’ original art work. The cottage itself, is small and cosy, and while perhaps not the most suitable as a gallery, does have some of it’s own benefits.
It is dedicated to presenting original book illustrations by Beatrix Potter.
While initially most of the art was displayed at Hill Top, alongside much of Beatrix’ personal possessions, the move to Hawkshead, has allowed Hill Top to be displayed exactly as Beatrix wanted, while also providing a focussed purposeful place for her Art.
Each room in the ‘gallery’ is laid out with her illustrations, comparable photographs from the places which inspired the illustrations, along with a book or two, in which the drawings appeared. Photographs appear in relevant places to try to paint a clearer picture of her life as a person.
Displayed here also are some of her own collectibles, including a collector’s case that she shared with her brother; various collectible knick knacks and even some pace-eggs which she decorated herself, as part of a Pace-egging tradition. There is also some wool from her much loved Herdwick sheep, from which children can make pipe-cleaner souvenir sheep.
If you’re a fan of Beatrix’ work, definitely visit, do be mindful however, that it is not disabled friendly and long with uneven upper floors, there are narrow stair-cases and low ceilings.
- Look out for the cupboard door which has names, messages, notes, from the employees of the office.
- If you’re tall, mind your head going up the stairs
- Make your own Herdwick miniature to take home