Sunday, 26 May 2013


The day after we returned from our little holiday, I trekked off to London to visit the Kensington Dolls' House Festival. I went on Saturday, which seems to be the first day of the show now, rather than Friday. It was very busy inside, but there were some great miniatures and some lovely artisans at the show as usual! 

I bought several things, and won't show you everything, but I was very excited to finally be able to purchase this Stokesay Ware dinner service. It's the jubilee pattern, which I think was launched last year.  I was torn between this one or the Greek Key design that Stokesay Ware also do.  If my memory is correct (which it may very well not be!!) this pattern is based on a Royal Worcester one from the early 19th century, so fits well with the Regency/Georgian period my house is set in.

I have been looking at the Stokesay Ware china for many years now, since I first started going to the dolls' house shows. I admit that it did cost more than I would usually pay for a miniature, and had to use the Fantastic Plastic to help pay for it, but decided to go for it at last. 

Here it is in all its miniature glory! I did check, and will still be able to add to the set over the next few years if I need to. I bought four place settings, and could get more over time. I love the vegetable dish and soup tureen particularly!

I think this shot gives a clearer image of the pattern on the china. You may have noticed the teapot depicted on the box is in the same pattern, so I think a tea service must also be available.

And here is the service laid out on the dining room table (which is crying for a table cloth!) I also gave the silver a little polish as some of it was starting to get very tarnished, but think I need to silver jewellery dip rather than the silver cloth I have, as I can't clean all the fine details. (you might also notice the hand painted plate I bought at Miniatura has found a home on the mantle shelf of the fireplace, replacing a Victoria Fasken one).

Do you remember my quandary over the Bonheur-du-Jour a few weeks ago? Gee very sensibly suggested that I do not pass judgement upon it until it has been bought to life a little with some suitable accessories. Well, taking his advice, and my own HOTlist (thanks John!! x) I looked out for some things to dress the bonheur with...

And here is the result! The beautiful bird is by Veronique Cornish and fits in with the other bird ornaments in the room by the same artist. The letters are copies of genuine ones complete with wax seals (before envelopes were invented!), Made by Ellie de Lacy, a STEAL at £2.50 a pack, I bought two packs of assorted letters and used them to fill the bonheur and the bureau bookcase in the parlour. 
The little leather-bound book is also by Ellie de Lacy, and is actually a 1/24th scale book, but I thought it was just right for the bonheur. I also found a tiny pair of spectacles (just about visible behind the chair) from Truly Scrumptious. 

Here's another shot. I am very happy with the result, and think the bonheur works better in the room now it is dressed, though I would still like one or two more things for it, an ink well and quill maybe, I have some keys I might use too, but all in good time! Thank you for the advice Gee!

And here is another shot showing more of the bedroom. Fi will be thrilled to know that I am now planning to start work on the bed covers and curtains (ONCE I HAVE FOUND A PRETTY PLEATER - which seem to be as rare as hen's teeth in the UK!).


Meanwhile, at the Swan Inn...

For a long time I have been thinking of getting a wife for the pub landlord, why not? everybody needs somebody to love as Queen once said (or sang!). Well, I had a bit of trouble finding a female doll that fitted the period and had the right look (this from someone who wasn't ever going to have dolls in his houses!!). Mid 20th century dolls are actually quite hard to get hold of, there tend to be mostly Victorian, Georgian and Elizabethan dolls about. However, after looking out for a suitable wife at several shows to no avail, I finally found one I liked! It is by Woodside Dolls, who made all the other pub dolls. I love her floral house-coat, but what I liked most about her was that she looks quite a bit like my own mother (a psychologist would probably have a field day after that little confession LOL!!). 

I am going to call her Jennifer in honour of my mother. She looks a little plump on all the traditional British food (she loves her cottage pie, cheese scones and trifle, and she makes a great roast dinner!!) but is quite healthy with all the fresh country air about her. Trouble is, I can't remember what name I gave her husband downstairs behind the bar! (He certainly isn't going to be called Thomas, Mum! I'm not letting you make that mistake again!!)

Well, there you have it! I did buy a few other bits and pieces, and I might do another post on those sometime, but these were my main purchases.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Holiday Snaps

A couple of weeks ago David and I went on a little trip away, with his parents, to Staffordshire. Our home for the week was Tixall Gatehouse, owned and maintained by the Landmark Trust. It is the most amazing building, originally the gatehouse to an Elizabethan manor house, which was demolished long ago. Work began on the gatehouse in the 1560s, the standard of carving on the stonework is astonishing, and the building uses many classical motifs in a purely decorative way.


The front and rear facades are both equally decorative, and the four turrets, one on each corner, are finished with distinctive ogee shaped domes. (that is me getting into the car by the way!!)

Here are some pictures of the building taken closer up, can you see all the details in the stone work? Do you notice the classical orders are followed vertically, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, clearly someone had been studying their classical text books!

My favourite feature on the whole building were these elegantly nonchalant angels above the gateway, there to greet us on arrival, they do look a little worn, but then they are over 450 years old!!
The front facade has soldiers above the gateway instead of angels, not quite so welcoming!!

The views from the rooftop over the Staffordshire countryside were incredible. Tixall is on the edge of Cannock Chase an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our neighbour across the way was Shugborough Hall, ancestral home to the Earls of Lichfield.  

Also in Tixall, a little way from the Gatehouse is this sweet little lodge gate, which also has an ogee shaped roof, and is believed to be part of the same estate as the Gatehouse. It is now a private home.

Our closest neighbours were sheep, with their sweet little lambs, it was a delight to see them, and they slowly got used to us, and get closer to us as the week progressed.

And here are some of the places we visited while on holiday.

Biddulph Grange Gardens

Biddulph Grange has a beautifully kept garden, maintained by the National Trust. The Victorian Garden was created by James Bateman, and is filled with plants and trees he collected from all over the world. The garden has several themes, including the Italian style terrace above...

The Egyptian Garden, complete with Sphinxes and monkey god in the temple...

And a stunning Chinese style garden. The garden looks fairly tranquil in the photos, but when we visited it was absolutely POURING with rain!!

St Mary's Church, Ingestre

This beautiful English Baroque church is believed to be the work of Sir Christopher Wren, and would be his only parish church outside of London. The building of the church was commissioned by Walter Chetwynd, and he paid for its construction. 

Work began on the church between 1673-1676. 

The interior of the church is truly breathtaking! It isn't normally left open, so if you plan to visit you might need to contact the key holder, we were very lucky that someone passing by could let us in.

The ceiling is a very fine example of plasterwork popular in the late seventeenth century. 

Notice the pillars along the nave, which are very similar to a design used by Wren at St Brides in London.

The pulpit and tester are said to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, a prolific carver in the seventeenth century. I'm not entirely sure it's true, but they are certainly in his style. The Tripartite screen above is also attributed to Gibbons.

this is the font.

Here are some close-ups of the carving.

 There are also some stunning Arts and Crafts Movement stained glass windows, one by Burne Jones (on the right)  
The other  by Baroness Gleichen (on the left) from the William Morris Studio.

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield is a rather pretty city, it has some beautifully kept parks and this amazing cathedral (note the poser in sunglasses who 'just happened' to get into my shot!! (thank you David!)

The interior of the Cathedral is worth seeing, but the most amazing thing I thought was this doorway,  
the main entrance to the cathedral. The stone carving is exquisite!


Buxton is a small spa town in the Derbyshire Dales, surrounded by beautiful rugged countryside. It is most famous for its Opera House, alongside which is the Winter Garden and Rotunda...

It is also famous for the crescent, almost, if not perhaps more elegant than the Royal Crescent at Bath. The Crescent is currently being renovated after years of neglect, and is due to open as a hotel and spa in the next couple of years.

Here is a shot of the centre of the crescent.

Well, there you are, a little snapshot of our recent holiday. I hope I haven't bored you all!! I realise that there are no miniatures in this post, but they will be coming in another post very soon, as I popped along to the Kensington Dolls' House Festival after my holiday, and have a few things I'd like to show you.

Ta ra for now!!
Andy xxx