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Dolls' Houses
Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern.
Plus furniture and accessories.

Issue 32 (March 2020)

Crewkerne House

text by Elizabeth Jackson, photos by Terence Jackson

Front of mid 19th century English boxback dolls house with brick paper in two colours, 3 storeys and 5 windows between white pilasters on the two upper floors, 4 windows and a central door on the ground floor

This English box-back was purchased empty from Lawrence’s of Crewkerne on 11 May 2012.  Inside was a hand written note - “A Georgian dolls house.  This house and a small quantity of furniture was auctioned and sold by Mr Jack Howard at Bexhill on Sea in the spring of 1910 for the huge sum of five shillings.  It has given me great pleasure”.  Elizabeth thought it was not actually Georgian, but mid 19th century, and this was corroborated when she saw 2 other very similar houses being sold as ‘circa 1850'. The Gladstone house, which was almost identical, was sold at  Brightwell’s auction at Leominster, Lot 377, 12th August 2015. And a similar 2 storey version from Flora Gill Jacobs’ collection was auctioned in 2014.  Clearly this confirms the houses were commercially made.

The large floral design wallpapers seem original but other rooms have been repapered later.  Apart from the red tiled kitchen floor all the rooms have plain velvet fitted carpets, and only the two top floor rooms still had their Evans & Cartwright fireplaces; other rooms had vacant chimney breasts.

Elizabeth enjoyed searching out furnishings for Crewkerne over the next few years, from fairs, auctions, on-line and from dealers in the USA and Europe.

Interior and inside of left door of boxback dolls house showing 6 furnished rooms and 3 hallways plus curtains on inside front

Interior and right inside front of mid 19th century English boxback dolls house

Top floor (shown in detail in the two photos below): day nursery/schoolroom and bedroom. 4 German dolls. 11 piece set of light wood furniture - early German - comprising table, chairs, settee, chests, desk, bed. Tiny child’s desk (extreme left front of schoolroom) and cradle where nursemaid is bending are both Rock & Graner. The many toys include German ‘thins’ and train set (modern) from Nuremberg, set of red skittles from Amsterdam, and a model theatre (modern) from Florence.

Nursery and top floor landing of boxback dolls house

Top floor landing and children's bedroom of boxback dolls house

Middle floor bedroom. Rock & Graner half tester bed and wardrobe. Paul Leonhardt dressing table, chest and bedside table. Märklin fireplace. Venetian glass chandelier.

Main bedroom of boxback dolls house 1

Main bedroom of boxback dolls house detail of Rock & Graner bed

Drawing room. Rock & Graner oval table. Walthershausen cabinets, desk and sofa (which has been removed for this photo, and is visible only in the second view of the whole interior of the dolls house). Erhard & Söhne ormolu magazine rack and chandelier. Evans & Cartwright settee. Märklin fireplace. Mustard coloured chairs by Harold Jeffery (about whom see below).

Drawing room of boxback dolls house

Ground floor dining room. 6 Harold Jeffery ‘Chippendale’ dining chairs, Walthershausen dining table, side table, china cabinet, chiffonier and sideboard. Märklin fireplace. Erhard & Söhne chandelier.

Hall. Paul Leonhardt hall stand.

Dining room of boxback dolls house

Kitchen. The empty chimney breast had once held an Evans & Cartwright range. It took Elizabeth a long time to track down a suitable replacement, unfortunately not by E &C. She has built in the red brick side oven and the 2 dressers herself on which to display a good set of German treen crockery, hoping that eventually suitable antique replacements will be found. German oak table. Kaybot food. German tin wash basin and other kitchenware.

Kitchen of boxback dolls house

In the photo below is the handmade furniture which Elizabeth bought from Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire in 2015. After enquiring about its provenance she was put in touch with the maker’s grandson, who was selling it. Harold Jeffery (1895-1980) made these superb pieces before WW1, "when he was young and his eyesight good". He served in the Royal Air Corps in WWI as a draughtsman, and later became an engineer. The group included 2 fine bureaus, a pie crust table, 2 bonheur du jour desks, and 6 ‘Chippendale chairs’. They were varying scales and pieces have been placed in different houses as appropriate.

Furniture made by Harold Jeffery