Archive for the ‘Doll’s houses’ Category

Opening up the Uppark dolls house

January 15, 2013
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.

Precious commodities

November 3, 2011

Pair of silver tea caddies engraved with the arms of Featherstonhaugh impaling Lehtieullier, 1767. ©Sotheby's

I am delighted to be able to announce that we purchased this pair of silver tea caddies at auction at Sotheby’s in London yesterday. They are engraved with the arms of Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh and his wife Sarah, who lived at Uppark in West Sussex, and are dated to 1767.

The purchase was supported by a fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury as well as by other gifts and bequests to the National Trust.

Pair of silver salvers similarly engraved with the Featherstonhaugh and Lethieullier arms, 1746, acquired by the National Trust for Uppark in 2010. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The shape of the caddies – almost like milk churns – is unusual. The very obvious locks are testament to the still relatively high value of tea at that time. Presumably the keys would have been carried by Lady Featherstonhaugh herself, as she would have presided over the serving of tea to her guests.

The dining room in the Uppark late-1730s doll's house, which includes a miniature silver porringer and monteith, both hallmarked. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Just last year we managed to buy a pair of silver salvers that had also belonged to Sir Matthew and his wife. Some more silver can be glimpsed in the dining room of Sarah’s grand and beautifully made dolls house, which was originally created in the late 1730s.


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