History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
This attractive little 17th-century house is where children's author Beatrix Potter wrote many of her popular Peter Rabbit tales. Hill Top is a comfortable home set back from the road through Near Sawrey, on the way from Hawkshead to the Windermere ferry. The house is full of furniture and china owned by Beatrix Potter and her family.
It was here that Potter wrote many of her most popular children's stories. Much of her writing was done in the little 'New Room' upstairs. The author purchased Hill Top in 1905, in part using her profits from the sales of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She used the house, garden, and surrounding area as inspiration for many of her subsequent best-selling books.
For the first few years of her ownership, Potter spent most of her time in London, where she lived with her parents. But her heart was in the Lake District, and she spent a deal of time expanding the house and caring for the farm and garden.
In 1909 she purchased the adjacent Castle Farm. In this and other purchases, she was advised by a local solicitor, Mr William Heelis. In 1913 she and Heelis were married in London, and immediately moved into a new house together - but not at Hill Top. Rather, the newly married couple chose Castle Cottage as their home. Beatrix used Hill Top as a writing studio and a place to entertain visitors.
She acquired a great deal of land in the area, and when she died she left an astonishing total of 14 farms to the National Trust.
The house is located behind the Tower Bank Arms inn on the road from Hawkshead to the Windermere Ferry. There are volunteer stewards in most of the rooms, who can answer questions about the author, and the house.
There are quite a few pieces of art hung about the house, but only a very few original drawings made by Potter for her books. If you want to see original illustrations, the best place to view them is at the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, also owned by the National Trust.
There are three rooms available to view on the ground floor. Of these, the largest by far is the Entrance Hall. Among the many personal objects in the hall are Potter's hat and clogs.
There is also a small parlour with a marble fireplace and a corner cupboard displaying English and Chinese porcelain owned by Potter.
Readers will recognize the staircase and balusters, which appeared frequently in a number of Potter's books. Upstairs is a comfortable sitting room, Beatrix Potter's bedroom, the 'New Room' where she did much of her writing, and the Treasure Room, used to display Potter's collection of china, jewellery, prints, and dollhouse.
The house is quite small and should take no more than 15-20 minutes to visit, even for the most dedicated Potter fan. Hilltop is surrounded by a lovely little garden, laid out by the authoress herself. The garden is planted with species mentioned by Potter in her letters, interspersed with vegetables to create a cottage garden in the traditional style that Potter loved.
Beatrix Potter planned to give Hilltop to the National Trust when she died. She had very particular ideas about how she wanted the house and its contents displayed, and she carefully laid out plans for each room, detailing exactly what should be placed where.
She made this layout part of the deed granting Hilltop to the Trust so that even if the Trust wanted to shift items about for any reason, they cannot, in fact, do so without violating the conditions of the grant!
There is a small parking lot and ticket office 200 yards from the house. To get from the ticket office to the house you have to walk along the road to the garden entrance, then back along the garden to the front of the house.
Hilltop is an immensely popular attraction, and there are often long lineups for tickets. To make absolutely certain you avoid delay gaining entry, it is advisable to arrive for tickets before the official house opening time, or late in the afternoon, closer to closing.
Spare some time to take a wander around the village of Near Sawrey, as well, or pause for refreshment in the inn, which featured in several of Potter's books.
The house is very small and is often crowded, particularly in the busy summer months. A timed entry system is in effect, and to guarantee entry you will have to pre-book. Visitors are especially advised to avoid visiting on school holidays!
About Hill Top
Address: Sawrey, Hawkshead, Cumbria, England, LA22 0LF
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: 2 m south of Hawkshead. NOTE: Hill Top is very small. A timed entry system is in effect. Maximize your chances of getting in by avoiding peak times, especially mornings during school holidays. Your best bet is arrive at least 15 minutes or more prior to opening time.
Website: Hill Top
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
OS: SD371 957
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
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17th century (Time Period) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Claife Viewing Station - 1.1 miles (Historic Building)
Hawkshead Grammar School - 1.9 miles (Historic Building)
Hawkshead, St Michael & All Angels - 1.9 miles (Historic Church)
Beatrix Potter Gallery - 1.9 miles (Museum)
Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House - 2 miles (Historic Building)
Lake Windermere - 2.2 miles (Countryside)
Grizedale Forest Park - 2.3 miles (Countryside)
Hawkshead Old Courthouse - 2.4 miles (Historic Building)
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