THE BEAUTIFUL setting of Lyme Park is offering visitors an inspirational trip back to childhood with a groundbreaking exhibition about one of the 20th century’s most beloved children’s writers and illustrators.
For the first time in the National Trust’s 65-year ownership of the Disley estate, parts of the historic Lyme Park Mansion are opening throughout the winter season to host a stunning exhibition on Beatrix Potter, the famous creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Sixteen rarely seen and specially selected watercolours painted by Beatrix, all of which have a winter or Christmas theme, have gone on display together with the original manuscript of The Tailor of Gloucester. Visitors can also follow a special Beatrix Potter garden trail – complete with a giant Mr Jeremy Fisher sitting in the lake on a lily pad.
House Steward Ellie Jones said: “Beatrix Potter had family living in nearby Glossop, so she would have almost certainly known about Lyme Park, and might even have visited. It’s therefore very appropriate that we’re holding an exhibition about her work, which will give everyone the opportunity to see Beatrix not only as an author, but also as painter and illustrator.
“In addition to her watercolours, we have some delightful Christmas cards she designed herself, and also a page from her journal, written in her secret ‘code’ about a visit she made to Manchester.”
Camilla Ray, spokesperson for Penguin Books which owns Frederick Warne & Co Ltd, the original publishers of Beatrix Potter’s books, added: “Beatrix’s father was the very first life-member of the National Trust, and Beatrix herself worked very closely with the organisation, making this a very fitting setting, especially in the lead-up to Peter Rabbit’s 110th anniversary in 2012.”
The exhibition is spread between three rooms in the house which are normally shut down for the winter – the Library, Dining Room, Ante Room – as well as a souvenir shop in the Stag Parlour. The exhibition is accessible via a special entrance. The remainder of the house will remain closed until Lyme opens for the new season at the end of February 2012.
For younger visitors, the exhibition offers opportunities to dress up as their favourite characters, inspect a dolls’ house inspired by The Tale of Two Bad Mice, and enjoy storytelling and craft activities. Beatrix Potter’s tales are available to read in the Library, and a selection are being provided in Braille and tactile images for visitors with visual impairments.
Some of Lyme Park’s 520 volunteers have also got involved by putting together their own collection of Beatrix Potter memorabilia for a display, to which visitors will be encouraged to add their items.
l ‘Winter with Beatrix Potter’ at Lyme Park is open weekends, November 5 – February 19, 2012, 11am – 3pm, daily during the school holidays, December 20 – January 2, 2012 and spring half term, February 13-19. Only the exhibition room, Stag Parlour and Library will be open in the house during these times.