24 August 2012

Countryfile presents Beatrix Potter - Mycologist

Julia in front of Wray Castle

Continuing Beatrix Potter's connection with BBC1 TV programmes (see our blog on 'The One Show comes to Hill Top'), she was also the subject of a feature in the Countryfile programme last Sunday evening. Presenter Julia Bradbury went to Wray Castle, where Beatrix used a family holiday there to scout out fungi and then produce wonderfully detailed watercolours of them.

Julia met with the Trust's own John Malley who is a fungi enthusiast, a trait shared with Beatrix Potter. He went on a fungi hunt with Julia, searching out fungi around the grounds as Beatrix would have done.

Fungi hunting just like Beatrix - apart from the film crew!
Beatrix's drawings were so good that her illustrations have been used in Fungi Identification Books and indeed John and Julia were able to identify the Waxcap fungi found in the grounds of the castle, by reference to Beatrix's own drawing in John's reference book.

John's reference book wih Beatrix's Waxcap drawing
It was good to see some recognition for the serious scientific application of Beatrix's artistic and observational skills. If you'd like to see the feature you can catch it on the BBC's i-Player where it is can be viewed for 7 days ie up until Sunday evening 26th August; it starts at around 50 minutes into the programme.

If you're  interested in seeing her wonderful original drawings, the Armitt Museum in Ambleside owns many of them.

If you'd like to visit Wray Castle, a mock-Gothic house on the western shore of Lake Windermere it is owned by the Trust and open to visitors everyday until early November. It came to us without its contents so you will not see a 'typical' National Trust house full of paintings, furniture and antiques. What you will see is a fascinating building with a varied history - make sure you join one of our free tours to get its full life story. If you've children to entertain you'll be pleased to know the rooms may be empty of grand possessions but full of kids having fun in our dressing up and story-telling spaces, perfect for a wet day in the Lakes!

post by Linda
photos | screenshots from BBC's Countryfile on  i-Player
John Malley and Julia photo John Atkinson