In the Gallery you'll find 32 hand-coloured, rarely exhibited illustrations by E.H. Shepard for Kenneth Grahame's enchanting tale The Wind in the Willows. This book was an expression of the author's sheer delight at time spent outdoors by the river, in contrast to his job at the Bank of England. It's about freedom, leisure and the restorative power of both friendship and nature. Shepard's illustrations have brought this charming story to life for generations of readers, and their spontaneous style, freshness of colour and humorous characterisation never fail to delight.
The theme of nature and wild life continues with a Wind in the Willows-inspired trail for families through the wilder side of Mottisfont – the grounds, meadows, woods and riverside – with intriguing clues along the way.
Visitors can also enjoy a display of contemporary work inspired by nature. The exhibition Worn to be Wild presents spectacular costumes by dress designer and textile artist Kate Plumtree. Her inspiration is the unusual combination of wild British birds and mammals and the evolution of period dress. From a medieval deer to a contemporary hedgehog, each costume has been carefully designed and constructed by observing the movement, character, habitat and style of each creature. The display includes an elegant 18th-century swan, a dramatic 1930s golden eagle, a sultry Victorian fox and many other stunning creations. There are even wildlife costumes for children to try on.