4 April 2014

Potter's Possessions

Beatrix Potter is and always has been a well known figure. She loved her animals and enjoyed including them in her stories, illustrating them with care and precision. The Lake District was one of her passions and she set her mind on preserving it for future generations. Most of all she also loved to fill Hill Top with a plethora of possessions, both familiar and unfamiliar.

There are a lot of quirky objects in the house and through this blog post I'm going to do my best to share some of my favourite ones with you. As we journey through the house you can think of me as your own personal Loyd Grossman (although a more feminine version and with less of an American accent).

So if you're ready, join me as we go “Through The Keyhole”.

Entering the kitchen we see that Beatrix has stuck door knockers onto two of the inside doors. This one on the outside of the parlour door is certainly striking with a metal face and sturdy knocker.

Are you talkin' to me?!
The vast majority of our visitors, staff and volunteers ask why she placed such a thing in an unusual place...
The truth? We don't really know. One theory is that she bought a box of antiques and found it amongst the objects and simply thought “Why not?!!” Another knocker that can be seen in this room is on a cupboard door in the corner of the kitchen. Officially classed as a demon, I'm not so sure, others have called it a devil and a cat.

I'd love to know what you think it looks like!

The hanging cabinet in the corner of the parlour contains the charming Edward VII Coronation teapot (secretly one of my favourite items in the entire house). Here in the cabinet it sits front and centre, commanding your full attention.

Coronation Teapot!!
However, to the rear obscured from view is this beautiful Staffordshire ironstone teapot from the late eighteenth century. Ironstone is a sedimentary rock and was often used in heavy duty dinner services, the teapot is printed with oriental dragon scenes and the ground is painted red. A truly unusual object and something that anyone would be proud to own (I know I would!).

Upstairs the bedroom is decorated with stunning William Morris wallpaper, not everyone has an iconic wallpaper in their house.

Beatrix does, and as much as she enjoyed living the rural life in the Lake District she still enjoyed the finer things in life, and in the end, why ever not?! Beatrix put this up when she moved to the house it's said to cost her a vast sum, however they say you get what you pay for and this it has truly stood the test of time with it's colour still as bright and vibrant in 2014.

The 'Daisy' print

13 stone marbles in the treasure room cabinet often get overlooked, after all, they're only marbles right?

Well, sort of, but they're marbles that Beatrix found in holes in the walls of Hill Top during building work between 1905 and 1906 and that's what makes them interesting. People keep things for all sorts of reasons but for this particular find, perhaps there was no reason other than she liked them and so kept them. I like to think that perhaps she was intrigued by why they were in the walls, and who put them there. I know I am.

Keeping her marbles safe

One of my personal favourites in the house is this little fellow.

He sits in the sitting room cabinet and many people have missed him as they peruse the room. It's easy to do as he's not always visible, especially on duller days (of which we have many in the Lakes), but I think he's absolutely fab.
Ooooh, hellloee!
With wire legs and a red hat, he's not very sturdy and has to be supported with acid free tissue pillows, but he's a little bit unusual and that's what I like about him. Beatrix certainly had an eye for the quirky and different.

I suppose a fitting question to end this post on is, “Who lives in a house like this?” Of course we all know that Beatrix Potter did, but I hope that through this post I've shown a little more of her character. It's only a very small selection of some of the weird and wonderful things that Beatrix collected and in the future I hope be able to share a few more with you.

B-e-a-utiful Hill Top! 
If you're interested in finding out more about any of the items in Beatrix's collection the National Trust's Collections website is a brilliant resource and free to access at http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/ .

I'm off now to explore a few more of Beatrix's vast collection.

Ta ta for now

Words and photos by Natalie :)