Top 10 British Places that inspired the most popular children’s books of all time

Another half-term week is on its way and shortly after that the long Summer holidays. London Mums looked for stay-acation inspiration and ideas for trips with the kids and found a special UK map of British Places created by Premier Inn inspired by the best popular children’s stories of all time. Many of the most-loved children’s tales are set right here in the UK – in our villages, towns and cities. Read along as one of these destinations can be your next stay-acation! 

1- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien – inspired by the countryside around Birmingham

You might be surprised to know that the magic of Middle Earth was actually inspired by the landscapes and villages in the UK. The famous settings for both The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy are said to be highly influenced by the author’s time living outside Birmingham as a child. For fans of the book, make sure to take a trip on the Tolkien Trail which includes the Moseley Bog that is said to be the inspiration to the Old Forest and Victorian towers that bear a striking resemblance to the Two Towers of the second of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.


2- The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Friends by Beatrix Potter – Set in and inspired by The Lake District

Born in 1866 in London, Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist.

House where Beatrix Potter was inspired by the nature to write Peter Rabbit children book story

As a child she spent her summers in the Lake District lapping up the beauty of the area which she painted, and the beloved yet naughty Peter Rabbit was created from the animals she sketched. In 1905 she bought Hill Top Farm and moved to the Lake District permanently buying pieces of land as her books made more money so as to preserve the unique hill side landscape. All her property, nearly a quarter of the Lake District, was left to the National Trust when she died in 1943 and is enjoyed today by all who visit the area. Stay over in beautiful Kendal – a great base for visiting the Lake District, near to Kendal Castle and the World of Beatrix Potter.

You may want to check this Film Review: Peter Rabbit starring James Corden & Domhnall Gleeson

3- Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne – set in Ashdown Forrest, East Sussex

A young boy holding a Winnie the Pooh looks over Pooh Bridge in the Ashdown Forest.
Picture by James Boardman.. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

Winnie-the-Pooh, possibly the most treasured bear of all time – his famous stories have been captivating children since 1926. The stories, set in the beautiful surroundings of Ashdown Forest, allow for the most wonderful of woodland adventures for all who visit. A quick trip to the education centre on site and you can pick up a map of the forest allowing you to follow in the great bear’s footsteps. The path culminates at Pooh’s much-loved bridge where you can take a moment and play Pooh Sticks – a favourite game of, and made famous by, the honey loving bear. Stay nearby in East Grinstead to also visit Hever Castle and the Bluebell railway.

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4- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – set on the Coast of Western England and in Bristol

Twilight over Brunel’s SS Great Britain – worlds first steam-powered passenger liner, now a museum in dry dock, Bristol, England. Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.

Robert Louis Stevenson is considered an outstanding modern writer and is probably best known for Treasure Island, his novel about Jim Hawkin’s boyhood adventure on a quest for buried treasure. The story was first published in 1883 and has stood the test of time. It is still very much loved by all who cast their eyes upon its pages and disappear into a world of pirates, sea battles and treasure. To get under the skin of the book, a self-guided walking and cycling route around Bristol’s historic Floating Harbour can be taken, which celebrates Bristol’s connections with the classic novel.


5- Peter Pan by JM Barrie – set in London and Neverland

When JM Barrie wrote the immortal opening sentence “All children grow up, except one” it was in tribute to his brother who tragically died a day before his 14thbirthday.

Peter Pan statue, Kensington Gardens, London

His family thought of him as a forever boy and the legend of Peter Pan was born. The tale of the mischievous boy who never grew up, and spent his days fighting pirates became one of the most beloved of children’s book characters. JM Barrie was born, raised and educated in Scotland but he chose to move to London where the novel was penned. Sadly, he never had any children of his own, and so chose to bequeath the rights of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street hospital. To this day the legend of Peter Pan helps to finance the hospital and its amazing work. JM Barrie commissioned a statue of Peter Pan which stands in Kensington Gardens and by staying close by in Kensingtonyou can visit other places of interest, likeBloomsbury Square where the Darling family lived, and then down to St Martin’s Lane to the Duke of York’s Theatre where Peter Pan made its stage debut in 1904.

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6- The Borrowers by Mary Norton – Written in this very house in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire

The fantasy novel, written by English author Mary Norton, tells the trials and tribulations of a family of tiny people, who live secretly beneath the floorboards of an old English house ‘borrowing’ from the big people in order to survive.

Leighton Middle School was originally called The Cadars and was built in 1856. The writer Mary Norton lived here.. Image shot 04/2008. Exact date unknown.

Set in Bedfordshire, the first of five adventures was written in 1955 and some 50 years later a blue plaque was unveiled to honour the author. The house in which The Borrowers was set is now a school and you can see the blue plaque displayed proudly upon it.  Other things to do in the area include a trip to Whipsnade Zoo, the Stockwood Discovery Centre and a Birds of Prey Centre in nearby Wilstead.


7- The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit – set in West Yorkshire

The Railway Children was serialised in The London Magazine during 1905 and following its success, was published in book form a year later.

Class 2-8-0 (8F) steam loco No. 90733 at Oakworth station the scene of the film the Railway Children.

The story follows the lives of three children who move to a house near the railway in West Yorkshire following their father’s arrest and imprisonment after he is falsely accused of espionage. Finding themselves at a loss in the wilds of Yorkshire, the local railway becomes their point of focus as they watch the trains going back and forth. The book and the film are based around Worth Valley train station. Step back in time by standing on the bridge at Haworth and watch the vintage steam trains puff their way up and down the valley, or jump aboard and travel to the Edwardian Oakworth station which was the location for the famous 1970s film.


8- Watership Down by Richard Adams – set in Hampshire

View of hannington radio mast from Watership Down The Warren North Wessex Downs Hampshire UK. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.

Incredibly, Watership Down was rejected by several publishers before Collins accepted it! Shortly after, the classic adventure novel featuring a community of rabbits escaping the destruction of their warren, went on to win several awards including the Carnegie Medal. Not only did it become a famous novel, but in 1972 the animated film took the world by storm. Stay near to the village of Ecchinswell which offers a Watership Down walk, taking in Nuthanger Farm which plays a major role in the novel. Along the way, see rare butterflies as well as obligatory bobbing bunny tails as they bounce around the North Wessex Downs.


9- Harry Potter by JK Rowling – the journey to Hogwarts begins in London King’s Cross

Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, London 

Harry Potter has taken the world by storm and has turned its penniless author, JK Rowling, into an overnight sensation. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has reportedly sold over 107 million copies since its release in 1997 and Harry Potter actually holds the top five positions for children’s best-loved books. In total, the series boasts global sales of over 331 million copies. The books have inspired eight films, a tonne of merchandise and a studio tour close to Watford Junction – which is a great place to visit. Be sure to pop over to Platform 9¾ at London’s King’s Cross station and have your photo snapped as if you were getting ready to board the Hogwarts Express.

You may want to check these related features:

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10- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – set in Oxford and Guildford, Surrey

Christ Church College building during autumn

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll and is considered as one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. His heroine, the brave Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by atypical anthropomorphic creatures, was created for the youngest of Henry Liddell’s daughters – Alice. Set in Oxford, the town offers many ways to acquaint the visitor with the history of the novel and its author. Alice’s Day commemorates an important moment for children’s literature and is celebrated annually. Or try a themed walking tour of the city and seethe original copy of the books in the Bodleian Library. If you want to expand your ‘Carroll’ tour, take a trip to Guildford, Surreywhere he wrote Alice Through the Looking Glass.

You may want to check these related features:

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Film review: Alice Through the Looking Glass 


So have you made up your mind? What are your favourite British Places for a stay-acation?

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