‘Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter...’
There can’t be a soul alive who hasn’t heard the tale of a plucky little rabbit named Peter caught nibbling the vegetables in grumpy Mr MacGregor’s garden. With plenty of cheeky bunnies, hardworking mice, ditsy ducks and laundry washing hedgehogs inhabiting the world of Beatrix Potter, it is not hard to see how her beloved tales and illustrations have worked their way into the very fabric of childhood. Well certainly in our house at any rate, dear Reader. With celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter in full swing, Poppy, Primrose and I popped down to the National Trust’s Mottisfont for a special afternoon of picnics, trails and open air theatre in honour of the lady herself.
Exploring round every nook and cranny and even into the dusty corners of the Cellarium, the trail took us round and about the gardens exploring, solving riddles, singing songs and peeking behind tiny yellow doors. I wonder if you can guess which of Beatrix Potter’s characters we found, dear Reader.
Venture into the house and climb the stairs to the gallery for a treat too. There you’ll find yet more Beatrix Potter treasures, with an exhibition of 30 original artworks alongside a selection of dolls and figurines, rarely seen outside of their permanent home in the Lake District due to light sensitivity. This particular Beatrix Potter exhibition at Mottisfont is an unique opportunity to see a rather special collection of illustrations which are an utter delight to young and old and show much of Potter’s own playful and mischievous nature as well as her sense of childish fun. We really loved finding out abut the stories behind the drawings, inspiration taken from Potter’s daily life and rural adventures at her Cumbrian home, Hill Top Farm.
Lashing of cucumber sandwiches and picnic rugs all laid out, we sat down to enjoy an open air performance of Quantum Theatre’s production Once Upon a Time there were Four Little Rabbits. Poppy and Primrose thoroughly enjoyed watching Peter Rabbit being chased round the garden by Mr MacGregor! Bliss in the sunshine – honestly, dear Reader, you really couldn’t have asked for a more picture perfect location.
With so much to see and do, sadly an afternoon just wasn’t long enough. So, we will most certainly be back to revisit the gallery and take part in all the other fabulous activities and birthday celebrations planned as Mottisfont’s Beatrix Potter: Play and Childhood exhibition will be running from now until 18th September. Here’s a taster of what’s in store for the rest of the summer holidays.
Thursday 28th July – Beatrix Potter’s birthday
Mottisfont will be hosting a rather special picnic in her honour between 3 and 4:30pm (normal admission charges apply). Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets, picnics and birthday buns to join in the celebrations on the lawn with storytelling and party games. Perhaps a few cuddly Peter Rabbit toys might make an appearance too!
Beatrix Potter activity weekends
30th & 31st July, 13th & 14th and 27th & 28th August between 10am and 5pm – Mottisfont will be running storytelling sessions and drop-in craft activities plus plenty more Beatrix Potter-themed fun.
Stopping for a delicious cream tea is pretty high up on our to-do list for our next visit to Mottisfont. Exploring is hungry work! I’m sure Peter would agree. Don’t you think, dear Reader?