Archives for posts with tag: antique dolls

When my sister and I were about five and seven, a distant relative gave us a very special gift. It was a big china doll that she had owned when she was a child. In the picture above you can see what Cousin Bernice looked like as a girl. It’s a really old photograph from Victorian times, so it is a bit faded and stained. (That mark on her face is just a grease spot!)

By the time she gave us Big Doll, Cousin Bernice (who was a cousin of my grandmother’s) was a very old lady. We thought the doll was beautiful with its smooth porcelain face and big brown eyes. Her hair felt like real hair, and her clothes were lacy and elegant.

As well as the clothes she was wearing, the doll had a big trunk full of things a kind couple had made just for her. The man was a tailor and he sewed a heavy winter coat and hat for her, and a white cotton nightgown with pink ribbons. You can see the hat (with a pink flower on it) and the nightgown in the open trunk. The kind lady knitted sweet pink mittens and a scarf for the doll. They must have been good friends of Bernice’s parents. I wonder if the doll and all her clothes were a birthday or Christmas present for Bernice.

I don’t know if Bernice played a lot with Big Doll. We found her so heavy to lift (because she is entirely made of china) that we were rather afraid of breaking her! So she has spent much of her time sitting in the blue rocking chair watching the world go by. She seems happy enough!

When I was about eleven years old I saw another antique doll in a flea market. I was desperate to have her and my Mum agreed to buy her for me. (I don’t think she was very expensive back then.) This little German doll is much smaller and has a soft body so she is easier to play with. Her golden hair is done up in two braids at the back, and her painted face is made of papier mach√©. This makes her very light and quite delicate. Because she had no shoes when we bought her, I sewed a special pair of black felt booties for her feet. I couldn’t make her any clothes, though, because she is quite firmly sewn into these ones!

Do you have any special toys that you will keep forever? Why not write and tell me about them?

My friend Jane recently visited a huge Victorian manor house called Berrington Hall in Herefordshire. She walked round the beautiful gardens and had a tour of the house which is full of amazing furniture, rich carpets and sparkling mirrors. Then she came to the Nursery, where the children of the house were looked after by their nanny. And look what she found!

A rocking horse very like the one she has in her front hall!

If you look closely at the picture, you can see lots of details of how Victorian children lived. This rocking horse has special baskets mounted on each side of the rockers so favourite toys could go for a ride too! His padded saddle  looks very comfortable, but I think a small child would have needed help to get all the way up there.

On the mantelpiece you can see tiny figures of birds and people, with more animals below on the wall. They seem to be in pairs, so perhaps they were part of a Noah’s Ark set? There is a cotton nightie hanging on the fire guard (where it would get nice and warm before bed.) You can also see a china doll sleeping under a table on the right. She looks very comfortable on her two gingham pillows! (I am guessing she is a girl, because in Victorian times, blue was a girl’s colour!)

There are two picture books on the rocking horse, so these Victorian children probably enjoyed reading bedtime stories with their parents. And on the left behind the rocking horse you can see a high chair, where the baby of the family would have been fed.

The rug on the floor has a lovely forest design with trees, birds and flowers. It reminds me of the illustrations from picture books of that time, so it’s perfect for a children’s room.

If you’d like to see more pictures of Berrington Hall, just click HERE. And thanks again to Jane who sent me this fantastic Nursery picture!