Opening up the Uppark dolls house

The Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Last week I joined a group of colleagues to discuss how we can better understand the dolls house at Uppark. This dolls house is a large miniature house that is also a piece of furniture, a toy and a work of art. It is a distinct object, but at the same time it is also a whole collection of very diverse objects. It is in effect a historic house with almost all of the contents from the time of its creation.

Four rooms in the Uppark dolls house, clockwise from top left: the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the Staircase Hall and the Kitchen. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Four rooms in the Uppark dolls house, clockwise from top left: the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the Staircase Hall and the Kitchen. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The dolls house dates from the late 1730s and came to Uppark with Sarah Lethieullier, who married Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh in 1746. But apart from that not much is known about it.

Close-up of the Dining Room in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Close-up of the Dining Room in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Who originally commissioned it – Sarah Lethieullier or perhaps another member of her family?  What motivated its creation? Was it a genteel amusement for the ladies of the family? Was it intended just for adults or also for children?

Close-up of the Principal Bedroom in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Close-up of the Principal Bedroom in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Was an architect involved in its creation, perhaps James Paine? Can we find out who supplied some of the contents – the furniture, the paintings, the household objects, the costumed dolls? Were its walls originally decorated with different colours and materials rather than in the uniform white we can see today? What can it tell us about early Georgian interior decoration and the life in a grand house?

Close-up of the Kitchen in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Close-up of the Kitchen in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

It will take time and research by a number of different experts to try answer these questions. One avenue of investigation will be to compare the Uppark dolls house with the more or less contemporary dolls house at Nostell Priory, and also with with the 17th century dolls houses surviving in the Netherlands, such as those created by Petronella Dunois and Petronella Oortman. Ultimately, the aim of the project is to make the Uppark dolls house better understood and better known.

10 Responses to “Opening up the Uppark dolls house”

  1. JJ Says:

    Awwwww! Love this doll’s house – it was my Advent Calendar this Christmas, bought from NT shop, natch!

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes I heard about that advent calendar version of the dolls house, an interesting idea.

  3. Randi Says:

    Lovely, could be spend days on end just looking at everything! Best dollhouse I’ve ever seen.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes we had our discussion/meeting last week in front of the dolls house, which was a treat.

  5. Sandra Jonas Says:

    How wonderful! I imagine it could be a replica of her girlhood home. Certainly sets the imagination soaring.

    Thank you so much for sharing these treasures.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes indeed Sandra, that is one of the tantalising questions the project will try to answer.

  7. Sandra Harding Says:

    I believe that Sir Edwin Lutyens went to Uppark (amongst others) to view it before Queen Mary’s dolls house was designed.

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Apologies for the delay in responding Sandra – how interesting to hear about that.

  9. Brigitte Says:

    This is the MOST WONDERFUL Dollhouse I have ever seen.Indeed a Treasure.Thank You for sharing :-)

  10. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Brigitte, thank you :)

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