New Beatrix Potter carpet is rolled out at Hill Top

New landing carpet fitted at Hill Top in February 2020, features in the Tale of Samuel Whiskers
Published : 03 Mar 2020 Last update : 04 Mar 2020

Hill Top's colourful centerpiece carpet on the stairs and landing, was made famous featuring in the Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

The original carpet provided a fitting setting for Tabitha Twitchet in this 1908 illustration.
Tabitha Twitchet illustration, on the stairs at Hill Top rom 1908 The Tale of Samuel Whiskers
The original carpet provided a fitting setting for Tabitha Twitchet in this 1908 illustration.

After 18 years and around 3 million pairs of feet walking over it, the old carpet was starting to show it's age so a fundraising campaign was set up in 2019 to raise money for a new carpet.

What 18 years on the stairs at Hill Top does to you
The old carpet and new side by side, showing the contrast in colour and wear
What 18 years on the stairs at Hill Top does to you

Turkish design

When Hill Top came to the National Trust, there wasn’t a carpet on the stairs but as it featured so prominently in the Tale of Samuel Whiskers, we knew there had been one there originally.
 
So the curator looking after Hill Top in the 1990s set about painstakingly researching and designing a pattern for a new carpet to be made; recreated based on Beatrix Potter’s illustrations from Samuel Whiskers and using traditional Turkish runner and rug patterns and authentic designs. The carpet was made in Turkey on handlooms and was fitted in 2002.

Conservation success

Not only did this new carpet bring back a wonderful, colourful centrepiece to Hill Top, but it was a huge conservation success for the team as it protected the original wooden stairs from millions of pairs of feet in its lifetime - plus staff, volunteers and the odd celebrity visitor to Hill Top!

Local skills

The new carpet has been made by the same company in Turkey as the last one and was skilfully fitted by Paul Read, from Highgate Carpets in Kendal, the same local fitter who installed the carpet at Hill Top 18 years ago.

Cumbrian carpet fitter puts the finishing touches to the new stair carpet at Hill Top.
Carpet fitter Paul Read fits the new stair carpet at Hill Top
Cumbrian carpet fitter puts the finishing touches to the new stair carpet at Hill Top.
" Where possible we try to support artisans and crafts people who are keeping traditional skills alive both in the UK and elsewhere, so we’re thrilled to have local people like Paul from Kendal doing the fitting, as well as using the traditional Turkish methods for the carpet production."
- Liz MacFarlane

 

A product of the fells

The underlay for the carpet was made from Cumbrian Herdwick wool, the sheep breed Potter loved and helped to preserve.

Looking closely at the familiar grey of the wool, bits of bracken can be seen incorporated into the pile, from where the intrepid Herdwicks have wandered across the fells.

The underlay, made from Cumbrian Herdwick wool, contains fragments of bracken captured in the fleece.
Gray underlay made from Cumbrian Herdwick wool
The underlay, made from Cumbrian Herdwick wool, contains fragments of bracken captured in the fleece.

It feels very fitting for part of the make-up of the Lakes that Beatrix loved to roam to be brought back into Hill Top for many hundreds of thousands of her fans to now walk on.

A big thank you

Purchasing the new carpet has been made possible by money raised through fundraising, including raffle ticket sales at Hill Top throughout 2019, so thank you to everyone for your support.

If you'd like to be one of the first to see the new carpet and find out more, Hill Top is open everyday, except Fridays.