Welcome to The House of the Tailor of Gloucester
We welcome you to the official website of Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester museum and shop.
The House of the Tailor of Gloucester (pictured to the left) is today a charming museum and quaint shop. The building is easy to find. It is in College Court which stands within the shadow of the Cathedral. This was the area Beatrix Potter drew and which inspired her to write what she described as her ‘favourite book’.
The House of the Tailor is now staffed by volunteers who are both enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Beatrix Potter and her works. The museum and shop are open to the public daily from Monday – Saturday 10am to 4.30pm and Sunday noon until 4pm (Closed Bank Holidays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Open Sunday from Easter until Christmas.).
Number 9, College Court, standing beside the ancient St Michael’s Gate, was the building Beatrix Potter chose for the setting of her story, The Tailor of Gloucester.
The inspiration for this story came in May 1894 when Beatrix Potter was staying with her cousin, Caroline Hutton. Whilst at the Hutton’s home, Harescombe Grange, which lies five miles south of Gloucester, Caroline told Beatrix the curious tale of a local tailor. Closing his shop at Saturday lunchtime with a waistcoat cut out but not sewn together, he was surprised to discover when, on the Monday morning he opened the shop again, to discover that apart from one button hole, the waistcoat had been sewn together. A tiny note was pinned to the button hole which read, “no more twist”. Beatrix requested that they visit Gloucester the next day when she saw the tailor’s shop and sketched some of the city’s buildings.
Presumably, Beatrix Potter had already formed the story in her mind but it was not until 1901 that the tale was committed to paper as a Christmas present for the daughter of one of her tutors, Freda Moore. Potter later reworked the story and this became the edition Frederick Warne published in October, 1903.
Historically, the original building on the site of the House of the Tailor of Gloucester can be traced back to 1535. It was in a lane that originally ran alongside the precinct wall of St Peter’s Abbey – now the Cathedral. In the 1930s, the ‘House’ was a private residence. In 1953, then owned by Mr Percy Zatman, a dealer in gold and silver, the ‘House’ became an antique shop. In 1978, the property was purchased by Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd. Using Beatrix Potter’s illustrations in The Tailor of Gloucester Warne’s remodelled the shop’s interior and frontage.
After an appeal in the local newspaper, in 2006 funds were raised to purchase the freehold of the building. The heritage behind the House of the Tailor of Gloucester is secure. It is now a museum with a gift shop run by volunteers. Visitors may enjoy the tailor’s kitchen where Simpkin keeps watch over his captured mice. Upstairs they can read a brief history of the original tailor, John Prichard, and view a small collection of Potter memorabilia. After watching the automaton where the mice work on the waistcoat, there is the shop where there is hopefully something for everyone. This magical experience is free and everyone can enjoy it.