'And when I asked, "But who is Cousin Beatie?" the answer was: "My mother’s cousin, Beatrix Potter".'
This was how Sir Richard Hyde Parker’s mother Ulla, Lady Hyde Parker, was introduced to Beatrix Potter by her husband, Sir William, the 11th Baronet. Beatrix Potter stayed at Melford Hall several times as a guest of Sir William and Lady Ethel Hyde Parker, Sir Richard’s grandparents. The family still owns a number of treasured mementos from ‘Cousin Beatie’.
The Great Hall
In the Great Hall, take a moment to observe the fireplace. You can look out for Beatrix Potter’s painting of this on the first floor.
The Hyde Parker Dining Room
The place cards on the table in the Hyde Parker room were created by Beatrix especially for the family. Take a close look at the dining chairs as you'll come across a lovely pen and ink drawing of one of these chairs in the North Corridor.
The Blue Drawing Room
The spinning wheel currently in the Blue Drawing Room was the inspiration for a drawing by Beatrix. The ribbon around the spinning wheel was once part of the language of courtship. Different coloured ribbons indicated the availability of the spinner.
The Nursery and the West Corridor
To accompany the Jemima Puddleduck story, Beatrix Potter created the model of Jemima which she subsequently gave to the Hyde Parker children. This holds pride of place in the nursery. Look out for her friend, the marmalade cat, a Christmas gift to Sir Richard’s sister Elizabeth when the family spent Christmas in the Lake District. You can also look through the story album Beatrix Potter at Melford Hall. Many of Beatrix Potter's paintings are featured in the upstairs corridors, including a number of book illustrations and sketches of the house and garden.
The West Bedroom
On her visits to Melford Hall, Beatrix slept in the West Bedroom. She was often accompanied by her menagerie of small animals, who had their own quarters in the turret room. The children looked forward to her visits and were always excited to see which animals she had with her. She painted one of her white mice, asleep in the bed, which can still be seen in the West Bedroom. All the bedrooms on this corridor were used by the family until 1980.
The North Corridor
In the restored north corridor, there's a number of other sketches by Beatrix Potter on display, showing different aspects of the house and garden.
Find out more
If you'd like to discover more, there's also a copy of Ulla, Lady Hyde Parker’s book, Cousin Beatie, and other related material in her sitting room. Several of the sketches you'll see on your tour of the house show areas of the garden. Why not take a closer look around the beautiful grounds, where you'll be able to find the location shown in these sketches?