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Our work at Beatrix Potter Gallery

The showcase in the Treasure Room at Hill Top, Sawrey, Cumbria, the home of Beatrix Potter
The showcase in the Treasure Room at Hill Top | © National Trust Images/Geoffrey Frosh

Find out more about our work at Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead: the handling and management of the extensive Beatrix Potter collection left to the Trust, and the building of a new footpath giving visitors and locals the opportunity to explore the area off road, just as Beatrix would have done.

Re-housing the Beatrix Potter collection

The Care of Collections team at the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Hill Top have been working to improve collections management and recording of the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter Collection.

Beatrix left a huge and eclectic collection to the Trust, ranging from furniture, paintings and jewellery, to more unusual items such as wooden rabbits, doll’s clothes and even a bracelet made of hair.

Wrapped in tissue

There isn’t room to display the whole collection at once, so what isn’t on display has been carefully stored away in archive boxes, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper.

While this means the objects are safe from harm, each time the team want to check the condition of an object, they must handle it, which can potentially cause damage.

A snug fit

To prevent this, the team of conservation assistants are working on re-housing the entire collection. This involves layering plastazote (a non-toxic foam) into an archive box and cutting a mould for each object to sit in.

This has proved tricky for some of the more unusually shaped objects, but our conservation assistants are a talented bunch! Once this project is complete, they will be able to carry out inventory checks of all objects without having to physically handle them.

The doll's house in the Treasure Room at Hill Top, Cumbria, home of Beatrix Potter
The doll's house in the Treasure Room at Hill Top | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Systems, data and dado rails

Another part of the project involves uploading the fixtures and fittings of Hill Top to the Collections Management System: a huge database where records of the National Trust’s collections are stored.

This means looking at doors, hinges, dado rails, fireplaces and bannisters in great detail. It might sound strange, but it is all part of our continued efforts to look after Beatrix’s beloved house.

Thank you

Your visits, spending in our shops and funds from memberships are all put back into conservation work like this, to ensure Beatrix Potter’s legacy can be enjoyed for many generations to come.

The new Hawkshead to Hill Top walk

Taking a new path

A new section of bridleway has been built to provide an alternative route between Hawkshead and Near Sawrey where walkers and cyclists have the chance to experience beautiful views across Esthwaite Water and over to the Coniston Fells.

Partnership project

The Claife Community Bridleway has been six years in the making, and was called for by residents on safety grounds in their community-led plan.

The project has been funded collectively by the National Trust, South Lakeland District Council, Claife Parish Council and the Lake District National Park Authority. The track is the last link in a network of paths which connects Wray Castle with Hawkshead.

"We are delighted to see this new bridlepath open for use. It has been a fantastic project working with Claife Parish Council and the National Trust to help them deliver a new safe off-road route."

- Sara Spicer, Lake District National Park Area Ranger

Barn and boathouse in mist at Esthwaite Water, Cumbria
Walk in Beatrix Potter's footsteps alongside Esthwaite Water between Hawkshead and Near Sawrey | © National Trust Images/Pete Tasker

Leave the car behind

The path supports sustainable transport as it allows for travel whilst leaving the car at home. Until recently it was difficult to walk or cycle this route; now the villages of Far Sawrey, Near Sawrey and Hawkshead are connected through an extensive network, which is accessible all year round.

*Please be aware that not all of the route is off-road, so it may not be suitable for all users, for example small children or wheelchair users.

An acclaimed opening

Claife Parish Council has hailed the opening of the path and appealed to landowners who chose not to let it cross their land, to think again, so that it can be fully completed.

Parish Councillor Anne Brodie said: “70% of residents who answered the CLP questionnaire said a path to Hawkshead was a priority for safety reasons. We hope that now they can see how the path benefits everyone, reluctant landowners will change their minds and let us finish the job.”

"The fenced path makes the road along Esthwaite Water safer for everyone – motorists included. And it opens up some lovely views of Esthwaite Water and the fells."

- Anne Brodie, Claife Parish Councillor

Connecting special places

This route is the final link in a chain that connects a number of National Trust places in the south Lakes.

This means visitors can now walk for miles mostly off-road starting from Wray Castle, Ambleside, then heading south towards Claife Viewing Station on Windermere’s west shore; along to Hill Top in Near Sawrey; and finishing in Hawkshead village with the Beatrix Potter Gallery.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Two visitors walking through the doorway of the Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead

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