Saturday, 30 May 2015

A dose of history

The amount of research you do for a project obviously depends entirely on how accurate you want your house to be.  Adult dolls' houses will range from 'anything goes', with an approximate or mixed scale, objects from any period along with just about anything which takes your fancy, right through to a perfect replica of a house in a particular period - think Queen Mary's house, the Thorne rooms and their ilk.

If I had a bottomless pocket to buy in historical expertise and craftsmen, as did both the projects mentioned, that is truly what I would like to own.  As I don't have such a pocket I have to settle for much less.  On a scale of 1 - 10 in terms of historical accuracy, I'd like to think I was a 9.  In reality I might achieve a 7.  I do keep trying...

In that vein I read as much as I can early on in the project and try and get to see as many real buildings as possible for the date I am doing.  That said, if you are really fussy, don't be led astray by assuming the National Trust (and others) must have got it spot on.  I am often surprised how often they don't!  As with all historical research the best place to go is contemporary documents, paintings and prints.  I am sure most people reading this could care less and that is a good thing - we all engage in this hobby for a million different reasons and they are all equally valid - dollhousing doesn't have any rules.

So, having said I like to 'get it right' as much as I can, I have just spent part of my week in Edinburgh scrutinising 1820 and anything preceding it.  [I confess to 1820 beginning to look a bit wobbly following this visit, as I really would like to wheel in a kitchener range to the kitchen so that will nudge it forward to 1830.]

Here is a link to The Georgian House which is mostly about 1820.  I did take a mass of photos but they are all copyrighted to the NT so I cannot share them here without permission.  You are as well visiting this link as it will satisfy most queries you might have.

I also visited Gladstone's Land.  Again click on its name for a mass if images.  If you are working on the seventeenth century a building like this is wonderful.  It gives you a real sense of how many people lived and worked in the tiniest of spaces.  It is an utterly unusual building with a ton of history and if you can ever get to Edinburgh and the Royal Mile go and visit it.  If you want to see it recreated in 1/12th The Tenement is the Blog to see.  Wonderful work.

Gladstone's Land
In truth, my visit to it  was to see the Georgian room which was a later extension to the building.  it was very nicely done and confirmed a lot of what I was thinking about my modest house.

the extended back of Gladstone's Land

A couple of minutes away is the Museum of Childhood, again click on the name for an images link.  If you like all things toys and old this is five (?) floors of heaven and free entry!  Even better they allow you to take photos.

My absolutely favourite item was the butcher's shop dolls' house:

click to enlarge

Click on the photo here so you can see the detail.

I was also caught up in this prettiest of small houses - simply described as American...

do you recognise this

Are we looking at Bliss or Gottschalk and how old?  If you know what it is please let me and/or the museum know.

We finished up with a visit to Newhailles which, although something of a mish-mash of periods, has good strong Georgian bones.

the original country villa

The original house was built in 1686 but changed ownership in 1709 and was renamed New Hailes. 

the original villa plus two additional wings

A new wing was added to the right to house an incredibly huge library so sealing Newhailles' reputation as the hub of intellectual ideas. Dalrymple's son added the left wing later.  (again click the name if you want to see what's there)

The house is loaded with wonderful detail and if you are lucky enough to have Aileen as your tour guide you will have the most wonderful hour and a half's insight into a fascinating place.

Edinburgh is a truly lovely city.


  1. I visited The Georgian House and The Tenement a couple of years ago with the intention of doing a Georgian style dolls house but went for Edwardian instead as it was easier :).

    1. I do think I have shot myself in the foot with a deadline of 1820 - hard to find enough stuff to buy for it and fairly difficult research. I did modern (1980s) and turn of the century (1900 ish) so thought a change would be good!! I suppose I was led astray by buying a Georgian house and wanting to 'match' the interior. Hey ho....onwards and upwards. Also it is very easy to 'clean it up' and do the modern idea of Georgian and I am finding that hard to avoid - might just give in - its only me that cares. Thanks for stopping by Diane. Marilyn