Flock to see Herdwick sheep at Willows Activity Farm

PUBLISHED: 10:59 10 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:59 10 March 2017

Herdwick sheep arrive at Willows Activity Farm in Hertfordshire

Herdwick sheep arrive at Willows Activity Farm in Hertfordshire


A breed of sheep that had special significance to the author Beatrix Potter has been introduced to a farm near Welwyn Hatfield.

A small flock of Herdwick sheep are now enjoying life at Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, St Albans.

The sturdy, grey and brown sheep are recent additions at the farm in Coursers Road, and happily camp alongside their fellow four-legged friends at the farmyard.

Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter, who spent much of her childhood holidays in Hertfordshire, was passionate about the protection of the breed, rearing them at her farms in the Lake District for many years.

She also featured her own Herdwick sheep in a children’s story titled The Fairy Caravan.

Andrew Wolfe, farmer at Willows Activity Farm, said: “We’re delighted that Willows is able to teach our visitors about this very special breed of sheep that Beatrix Potter was so passionate about.

“Each of the sheep breeds we keep at Willows has an interesting story.

“Herdwicks have a great history and are important to the legacy of the Lake District.”

Beatrix was the first elected female president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association in 1943 for her conservation efforts, and won awards at local agricultural shows for her flock.

About Willows Activity Farm

Willows Activity Farm provides wholesome fun and active learning through play for families, set in the Hertfordshire countryside.

It is situated 200 metres off Junction 22 of the M25.

Willows includes the PETER RABBIT™ Adventure Playground, the first themed attraction of its kind in the world, created in partnership with Silvergate Media, the co-producers and global licensing agent of the CGI animated TV series ‘Peter Rabbit’.

• Visit www.willowsactivityfarm.com for more information.

As a tribute to her work, one of Willows’ new sheep has been called Beatrix, with the others named Jem and Tiggy after characters Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Tiggywinkle.

Visitors to the activity farm can watch the hardy sheep in the fields and see the thick, coarse wool they develop in winter time to keep warm,.

There are also goats, horses, pigs and cows at Willows.

Beatrix Potter’s classic stories feature a range of animals, including the famous The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

And Willows is home to the world’s only Peter Rabbit™ Adventure Playground, and families can meet and greet Peter Rabbit, Lily Bobtail and Benjamin Bunny daily.

Beatrix Potter herself was a frequent visitor to Hertfordshire in her younger days.

Her grandparents, Edmund and Jessie, bought Camfield Place in Essendon in 1866.

Beatrix described the house as “the place I love best in the world”, and some of the happiest periods of her childhood were spent there.

Camfield Place – later home to Dame Barbara Cartland – also inspired some of Beatrix’s books.

For longer stays in the county, Beatrix’s father, Rupert, rented Woodfield, also in Essendon.

During her stay there Beatrix fished in local ponds, sketched local wildlife and visited St Albans, North Mymms, Panshanger and Hatfield Park.

After her grandfather passed away, Beatrix continued visiting Hertfordshire regularly to see her grandmother.

In 1884, her dad rented Bush Hall, at Mill Green.

Beatrix learnt how to drive a pony carriage, fished trout in the River Lea and produced detailed sketches of Bush Hall and the paper mill, which then existed close by.

When Beatrix’s grandmother died in September 1891, Camfield was put up for sale and later became the home of romantic novelist Barbara Cartland.

The Potter family started holidaying elsewhere, but Beatrix made at least one further visit to Hertfordshire, as she sketched the exterior of Mill Green Mill on September 23, 1910.

This is the earliest known picture of the mill, and the only one to show the mill whilst it was still industrially producing flour.

For more information about Willows, visit www.willowsactivityfarm.com

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Related articles

Most Read

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Most Read

Latest from the Welwyn Hatfield Times