New Beatrix Potter trail launching in Gloucester

Beatrix Potter and her links to the city are being celebrated in a brand-new trail around Gloucester this October 2023, with ten specially commissioned plaques to hunt for.

By Sarah Kent  |  Published

One of the best loved children's authors of all time, Beatrix Potter will be celebrated in a brand-new trail in the centre of Gloucester, from Friday 20 October 2023.

Marking 120 years since the publication of The Tailor of Gloucester, famously based on a real-life tailor who was located in Westgate Street in the late Victorian period, the trail will lead families through the cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, hunting for ten hidden, specially commissioned brass plaques.

Each plaque features mice based on the original illustrations drawn by Potter for The Tailor of Gloucester, re-drawn by award-winning local artist Ella Daniel Lowe.

Rebecca Barrett, south west regional director at Historic England who is behind the trail, said: 'Beatrix Potter is loved all over the world and is still popular with children today. I’m delighted that, through the Cathedral Quarter High Street Heritage Action Zone, we are marking the anniversary of the publication of The Tailor of Gloucester by celebrating its origins on Westgate Street.'

Potter described The Tailor of Gloucester as her favourite book, and it is said that she was inspired by a curious story told by her Gloucestershire cousin who lived in nearby Harescombe.

The story goes that local tailor John Pritchard, whose shop was located at number 45 Westgate Street in the late 1880s, left an unfinished waistcoat in his shop one Saturday evening. The garment was discreetly finished by his apprentices who had opted to bunk down in the shop after a jolly session in a nearby pub rather than venturing home. They managed to finish all but one buttonhole before running out of thread, leaving a note for the tailor reading 'no more twist', which was the Victorian tailor's term for sewing thread.

The tailor, after discovering the finished garment, started to advertise his clothes as 'completed at night by the fairies'. On writing the story, Potter changed the fairies to mice and the tale of the tailor of Gloucester was born.

She also took her inspiration for the shop from her sketches of 9 Cathedral Court, the pretty cobbled lane where the House of the Tailor of Gloucester museum now stands.

The trail is organised by the Cathedral Quarter High Street Heritage Action Zone Partnership, in the first of a series of improvements to the public areas of Westgate Street, which will also include new seating and planting schemes in the near future.

During the launch days of Friday 20 and Saturday 21 October 2023, children will receive a prize for finding all ten hidden plaques!

To pick up a trail leaflet, head to the Cathedral Quarter Makers Market or the House of the Tailor of Gloucester Museum. 

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