Seventy years ago on July 7th, Hill Top opened to the public for the first time, after being left to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter.
|Hill Top with the Coniston fells beyond
Beatrix wrote in her will:
“That the rooms and the furnishings used by me at Hill Top farmhouse may be kept in their present condition and not let to a tenant and it is my wish that any other objects of interest belonging to me in any other of my cottages and farmhouses may be preserved therein.”
In 1944, whilst Britain was still at war and houses were not to be left empty, Ethel Hartley came to stay and created a notebook based on her conversations with William Heelis.
She wrote in her ‘Notebook of Ideas’ “It is a joyous task to be asked to live in Hill Top & in its atmosphere of peace & quiet, to listen: think: suggest: & help to plan for the day when the Beatrix Potter memorial can be completed.”
“We need to be careful what we do about Hill Top’s propaganda: in the first seven weeks we have already had 1,200 visitors!”
In the early 1980’s the custodian was joined by a “houseman” and a couple of part time assistants. In 1992 the role of volunteer room-guide was introduced and we still have one or two of these original volunteers helping us!
We continue to evolve and adapt the needs of the house for the benefit of our visitors, using modern conservation techniques to monitor and protect its precious objects, so Hill Top might remain a must see destination for visitors to the Lake District for the next seventy years.
|Detail from the bedroom at Hill Top
As well as celebrating this special anniversary in 2016 we're also marking the milestone of Beatrix Potter's 150th Birthday. Find out more about the celebrations here and join in the fun!
Words by Jane Watson