Beatrix Potter: More than just storytelling

To think about the role and true legacy of Beatrix Potter, who, in later life became Mrs Heelis, we must consider her beyond that of the author and storyteller. We must understand her passions, interests and pursuits, including as a talented artist and illustrator, environmentalist, and award-winning Herdwick sheep farmer.

In this exhibition, we explore Beatrix Potter as an individual from beginning to end. After being given a paintbox by one of her father’s friends, the artist John Everett Millais, a young Miss Potter had spent hours drawing in the Natural History Museum in London. Millais said of her:

“Plenty of people can draw, but you have observation . . .”

Her rare talent and keen eye can be seen in her paintings of fungi that are on display. In 1943 she bequeathed her mycological, natural history, and archaeological drawings to The Armitt. They have toured to many other venues around the UK and the world, and people still take inspiration from her studies.

We also share a look into her experiences as a sheep farmer with her collection of properties and land later forming the core landholding of the National Trust at a critical time in its development. Beatrix, like many others at this time, was keen for increasing industrialisation to not reach or impact the Lake District. Do we also share with her the fear of over-development? She memorably explains her views when seeing the first flying boats taking off and landing in Windermere:

“There is a beastly fly-swimming spluttering aeroplane careering up down over Windermere; it makes a noise like ten million bluebottles”.

So, we invite you to explore this exhibition and would ask you to consider –

The characters in her tales – Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and Tom Kitten, are set in Lakeland. Are they her legacy or is their setting, bequeathing as she did, the majority of her 4,000 acres and farms to the National Trust?


“Loved our visit – very welcoming and interesting venue. We particularly enjoyed Beatrix Potter’s watercolours. Well worth a trip”


Rydal Road • Ambleside • LA22 9BL

Tel: 015394 31212


Charity number: 1054762