Cumbria Goes Potter Film Potty

Written by James MacGregor on . Posted in Scripts and Development


Cumbria, England's Lakeland & Beatrix Potter country.Cumbria will be the stunning backdrop for a major Hollywood production about the life of Beatrix Potter, in which Renee Zellwegger and Ewan McGregor will play the lead roles.Nigel Wooll, Executive Producer of the film said: “80% of the reason we are shooting in Cumbria is because of the fantastic support of North West Vision's Cumbria Film Office, film officer Alan Saywell and all the partners in Cumbria.”



Beatrix Potter was born in South Kensington, London, in 1866 Her family were well off – she was taught by a governess, but she led a sheltered life, studying and drawing har many pets. Her parents took her on long summer holidays. When she was 16, they rented Wray Castle near Ambleside in the Lake District. Beatrix was 16 when they first stayed here.

Beatrix Potter painted in 1938 by her friend Delmar Banner   INFLUENCES

The Potters entertained many eminent guests, including Hardwicke Rawnsley vicar of Wray Church, who became a founder of the National Trust. His views on the need to preserve the natural beauty of Lakeland had a lasting effect on the young Beatrix, who had fallen in love with the unspoilt beauty surrounding the holiday home.

For the next 21 years on and off, the Potters holidayed in the Lake District. Beatrix watched squirrels in the woods, saw rabbits in the vegetable gardens and made many sketches of the landscape.

Reverend Rawnsley encouraged her drawings, and when back in London Beatrix made greetings cards of her pictures, and started a book. Rawnsley encouraged her to publish, and eventually Frederick Warne published 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' in 1902.


In 1903 Beatrix bought a field in Near Sawrey, near where they had holidayed that year. She now had an income from her books, Peter Rabbit having now sold some 50000 copies. In 1905 she bought Hill Top, a little farm in Sawrey, and for the next 8 years she busied herself writing more books, and visiting her farm.

In 1909 she bought another farm opposite Hill Top, Castle Farm, which became her main Lakeland base. Seven of her books are based in or around Hill Top. Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers lived there. Hill Top is still as it was then, and is now the most visited literary shrine in the Lake District.

Beatrix Potter married William Heelis, a solicitor in Hawkshead, in 1913. Then started the next stage in her life, being a Lakeland farmer, which lasted for 30 years.


In 1923 she bought Troutbeck Park Farm, and became an expert in breeding Herdwick sheep, winning many prizes at country shows with them. Beatrix continued to buy property, and in 1930 bought Monk Coniston, an estate of 4000 acres.

When she died on 22 December 1943, Beatrix Potter left fourteen farms and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust, together with her flocks of Herdwick sheep. The Trust now owns 91 hill farms, many of which have a mainly Herdwick landlord's flock with a total holding of about 25,000 sheep. This was her gift to the nation, her own beloved countryside for all to enjoy. Beatrix Potter was the first woman to be elected president-designate of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders' Association, flourishing to this day..