Beatrix Potter Gallery
Beatrix Potter Gallery

UPDATE: The Beatrix Potter Gallery (aka The William Heelis Office) has been closed temporarily after structural issue were found with the building. Please DO NOT make plans to visit! We will update this page when more information becomes available. The National Trust has suggested that, in the meantime, some of Beatrix Potter’s original artwork and manuscripts may go on display at her home of Hill Top.

Located in the heart of picturesque Hawkshead village, the Beatrix Potter Gallery displays changing exhibits of the original sketches and watercolour illustrations created by the popular author Beatrix Potter for her children's stories.

The building that houses the gallery was once the office of Potter's husband William Heelis, and it has remained largely unaltered since his time. The Gallery is located only two miles from Potter's home at Hill Top, where she did most of her writing.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit privately printed edition, 1901
The Tale of Peter Rabbit privately printed edition, 1901

The Gallery was built in the 17th century and is a Grade II listed building. The interior is essentially unchanged since William Heelis had his offices here. The National Trust maintains the Gallery and offers an exhibit of original Potter watercolour paintings and sketches for her series of popular children's tales.

One of the prize exhibits is an original watercolour for a privately printed edition of The Adventures of Peter Rabbit, 1901. Potter submitted her story about a mischievous rabbit to several publishers but none were interested.

Convinced that there was a market for her story, Potter paid to have the book published privately. She published 250 books and gave them to friends and family. She then ordered another 200 copies before the Frederick Warne & Co. publishing firm decided to take a chance on publishing her works. The rest, as they say, is history.

In addition to the illustrations, there is a display of objects from Potter's life and writing career. The exhibits change annually, so you are likely to see something new each time you visit. When we visited the exhibits included Potter's paintbox, letters to publishers, sketchbooks, and a bureau full of insect samples.

Hedgehog sketches, 1904
Hedgehog sketches, 1904

More than being just an author, Beatrix Potter was closely involved with the preservation of Lake District heritage and the natural environment of the area that she loved. She was a staunch supporter of the National Trust, and when she died she left her farms, houses, and land to the Trust. It seems quite appropriate that the Trust now showcases her drawings in such a historic setting, with such close ties to the author herself

The Gallery is well signposted in Hawkshead and very easy to find. It is on Main Street, a short walk from the main visitor car park. Be aware that the gallery occupies an old house with steep stairs and uneven floors. Don't confuse the Beatrix Potter Gallery with the National Trust shop a few doors away.

Do take time to explore Hawkshead village. A short stroll from the Gallery is the Old Grammar School, where poet William Wordsworth went to school. A short stroll from the village centre is the Old Courthouse, a medieval building once owned by Furness Abbey.

More Photos

About Beatrix Potter Gallery
Address: Main Street, Hawkshead, Cumbria, England, LA22 0NS
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: on B5285
Website: Beatrix Potter Gallery
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Location map
OS: SD352 982
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Hawkshead Grammar School - 0.1 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Hawkshead, St Michael & All Angels - 0.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Hawkshead Old Courthouse - 0.4 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Tarn Hows - 1.8 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Hill Top - 1.9 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Tom Gill - 2.1 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Wray Castle - 2.2 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Steam Yacht Gondola - 2.6 miles (Family Attraction) Heritage Rating

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