Blog - Dolls’ houses at the V&A Museum of Childhood

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Dolls’ houses at the V&A Museum of Childhood

2 May 2018

For today’s blog, we are delving into the amazing collection of dolls’ houses at The V&A Museum of Childhood. The Museum of Childhood is the largest institution of its kind in the world and holds a collection of around 100 dolls’ houses, models and shops. By looking in to these miniature worlds you can learn a lot about how people lived at the time they were made.

We’ve chosen 4 of our favourites to share with you today.

Mrs Bryant’s Pleasure

This dolls’ house was custom-made for a Mrs Ann Jago Bryant in about 1865. It is said to be modelled on her own house, Oakenshaw in Surbiton. At the time, she was a middle-aged woman living in luxury in the London suburbs, and the house reflects the sturdy Victorian domesticity.

The furniture is beautifully carved in rosewood and mahogany, the upholstery is rich and bright. The wallpapers and carpets are all typical of a conservative, middle class household. There are a few mass-produced items, like the lacquered trays in the kitchen, but most of the furniture is unique, and must have been commissioned from a skilled cabinet-maker.


Mrs Neave’s dolls’ house

This house was bought from a Mrs Neave of Cotham from Newark-on-Trent, in 1930. It dates from about 1840, but little is known about its origin.

It is a snapshot of an early Victorian interior. The exterior has pointed Gothic windows, an unusual feature in a dolls' house. The rooms are badly proportioned, and the full-scale wallpaper and carpets emphasize this. Nonetheless the house conveys an atmosphere of undisturbed early Victorian domestic idyll.


The Drew House

This house was made in the early 1860s for the Drew family. Some repair and restoration work has been done to it, however, the house contains all the original furnishings and occupants. Many of the furnishings were manufactured by the important firm of Schneegas of Waltershausen in Germany, who specialised in making quality dolls' house furniture. The kitchen is well stocked and has an up-to-date closed oven instead of an open range, which would have been more usual for its time.


Tri-ang dolls’ houses

The ‘Jenny’s Home’ modular dolls' house system was produced in the 1960s in conjunction with Homes & Gardens Magazine. It was made by Tri-ang, a British manufacturer best known for their toy trains.

The individual sets allowed young children to slowly build up a collection of rooms and furniture to create almost any design of their choice. A system that could be turned from an apartment block to a bed-sit, Jenny’s Home was a highly flexible, modern toy that helped to inspire future home-makers.


We hope you enjoyed taking a peak in to these miniature worlds!

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