Day Ten - Hill Top House (Beatrix Potter) & Brantwood (John Ruskin)  

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We drove south of Ambleside to see the homes of literary giants Beatrix Potter, who wrote & illustrated children's book, and, John Ruskin, a kind of Renaissance Man of the late 1800s.  I admit to knowing little to nothing about either person, so it was a learning day and both houses were interesting. 

The Beatrix Potter home is in beautiful country, and is very simple, whereas the Ruskin home is big & elegant, in a spectacular setting, looking over Conniston Water. 

look for Hawkshead, Far Sawrey, and Conniston Water


Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943) was a writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist.  Of the 30 books she wrote, 23 were children's books, the most popular being The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  In her private life (and married life) out in the country, she became a prizewinning breeder of Herdwick sheep.  

Beatrix Potter loved the Lake District starting with family trips when she was a child.  By 1905 Beatrix Potter had become a very successful author, and she  purchased Hill Top House and farm, near Hawkshead.  With her steady income from books and her line of spin-off merchandise, over time she was able to buy numerous large farms, often at auction, to prevent development.  The huge amount of land which she assembled was willed to the newly formed National Trust, a generous gift that sowed the seed for what eventually became the Lake District, one of England's first National Parks.  (from wikipedia)

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.

managed by Natiional Trust  Hill Top house period furniture & dishes original printing
  early piano period wallpaper naturalist art  
a Linnean plant classification book interiors writing sample illustration
    book in the gift shop Beatrix Potter
in the garden town of Near Sawrey        

note - so many people come here to tour that the tiny parking lot gets overwhelmed & you have to cruise around, hoping to get a parking space, even in the off-season.  At the house, Docents allow a group of about 8 in every 12 minutes or so.  It gets somewhat crowded and I often had to wait a few minutes to be able to get a room photo w/o other visitors in it.    


We stopped at nearby Hawkshead to have a look around, finding St. Michael's church on a hill, and, next door was a Grammar school which Wm. Wordsworth attended as a youth.  Hawkshead is a tourist town with B&Bs, restaurants, galleries & shops, in rolling hills terrain. 

a church in Hawkshead St. Michael's & All Angels Celtic cross the lay of the land
     interior Hawkshead Grammar School  
  backwards clock        


John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) was an art patron, an art critic, a watercolorist, a social thinker & philanthropist.  In his extensive writings, he emphasized the connection between nature, art, and society. 

At one time Ruskin was a leading thinker & orator who drew crowds as a lecturer at Oxford.  He was so popular that every lecture he gave to his students in class had to be given again later, in a public forum.  (Brandtwood brochure)  

We stopped at a nice cafe before touring the house.  Fruit scone w/ pad of butter & small jam jar, plus an was a rainy day out and good to be in a cafe. 

We were the only visitors in the large art-filled home.  The setting for this house, 250 feet above lake level, seems incredible.  Conniston Water is supposedly one of the quietest & least developed of the Lakes.    

Rich at Brantwood overlooking Conniston Water living room dining room
  statue of Gandhi artwork by Ruskin John Ruskin, young & old
view towards town of Conniston what was J. R. like ? sculpture of Ruskin the words of the artist (Borglum)
  Conniston Water froze in Feb. 1895, see note 1 Ruskin designed wallpaper recent artwork by Hideyuki Sobue, see note 2
more interiors Ruskin designed fire place he liked to have art around crow's nest & scaffolding
the town of Conniston tour boat on Conniston Water Brantwood his extensive garden
multi-leveled garden

note 1 -  in this photo John Ruskin is third from the left.  Others include a local builder, Ruskin's current & future head gardener, as well as coach & stable boys, and other Brantwood staff (the house can be seen in the background).  No other family members of Ruskin are present.

note 2 - Hideyuki Sobue is a Japanese artist who resides in the Lake District.  He recently painted images of Wm. Wordsworth and J. Ruskin, presenting his "Conversation with Ruskin" lecture at the Ruskin house in September, 2019.  

After our house self-guided tour, we walked uphill into an impressive terraced garden for about 15 minutes. 

Both destinations required us to drive on the narrowest roads on the entire trip. It was tricky but luckily the traffic volume was low.  Once back at Ambleside, the drive to Keswick is on a really nice, much wider road.  There's a lot of really good scenic driving to do here, besides the hiking opportunities.   

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