11 October 2019

Newby Hall

This might be a long post - I think I might get carried away posting photographs of the many gorgeous dolls houses at Newby Hall!
Newby Hall is the permanent home to one of the finest collections of dollshouses and miniatures in the world, created by collectors Caroline Hamilton and Jane Fiddick. For well over 40 years friends Caroline and Jane have shared a passion for dollshouses. With nearly 70 houses of all shapes, sizes, styles and ages this is also one of the most important private collections on display anywhere in the world. The attention to detail in each tiny room, arranged in clever and amusing scenes and peopled by delightful characters is truly wonderful.
All the exhibits are behind glass screens which meant a lot of reflection, so I have scanned or photographed the pictures from the beautiful book I bought. Photos, no matter how good, can truly reflect the delight from seeing the exhibits in real life.

Best House is a beautiful Georgian house that Jane and her husband built together.
It took time to materialise, so to have something to play with in the meantime Jane bought
a small wall-hung kit house. When this Georgian house was finally finished it was called
'Best House' simply to distinguish it from the other one.

Exquisite miniatures
From top left
Baby clothes: Bobbin lacemaking cushion
Wild flowers: Glass decanter & glasses (my favourite)
Sewing and manicure nécessaire: Knitted mouse

Mrs Aspi Distra
When she first saw this house Caroline wrote "There was nothing original to respect" However when she saw a "rather clumsy looking doll dressed in bright purple" she immediately felt she was right for the house. Mrs Aspi Distra likes purple, in her dress, shawl, tea cosy, cushion and her knitting. She collects flying ducks, and royalty souvenir china, and she has a little dog. She spends a lot of her time checking up on her neighbours from behind her curtains.
Mrs Aspi Distra is a formidable character, hence the slight trepidation shown in the vicar's stance!

The Tall Wooden House
has a lift which is totally open and operated by a mechanism in the bedroom.
You can see the lift in the left hand corners of each of the rooms.
Caroline enjoyed sending someone hurtling down the lift into the kitchen!
Another feature that appealed to Caroline is the shiny brass hook on the front.

Library In A Book 

How cute is this

The Pink Gothick Gatehouse was inspired by years of reading World of Interiors magazines. 

 it's my favourite

I love the yellow drawing room

The conservatory is in the converted coach gate

This sumptuous bedroom has silk walls and a tented ceiling.
The fine flower painting hanging over the chest of drawers conceals the mechanism
for the automated bird which sings and flaps its wings when operated. 

From top left
Ribbon back chair: Landseer's Dignity and Impudence
Elegant Lady: Country Woman on rocking chair

Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Originally Jane was going to create a Mackintosh room but her husband persuaded her
that a house would better show his architecture as well as his distinctive designs for furniture.

San Franciso Painted Lady
another of my favourites.
It's a very pretty house made from a kit. Caroline says "it was rather a shock dealing with a zillion press-out, inaccurate, hairy-edged, splintery bits". Inspiration came from the "painted lady" houses of San Francisco with their beautifully decorative Victorian exteriors and fantastic complex and colourful interiors.  

Millennium Dome
This is a bachelor pad in a London Docklands loft. Nick Loadsamoney is a banker.
He has a designer kitchen but prefers take-away pizzas and a can of lager!

Mrs Smith & Mrs Jones
Almshouses were traditionally built by the Lord of the Manor or the local parish, to house the poor or retired estate workers. This model was sold as as one interior but when Caroline saw the two front doors she felt it should be divided again. Mrs Jones on the right has 'the electric' whilst Mrs Smith is still living with oil lamps. Mrs Jones is a bit more well off, she has a smart new range and a nice dresser. Mrs Smith only has a curtain wardrobe and takes in sewing to make ends meet. 

More gorgeous miniatures
Egg cups in stand with spoon: Fairy under dome
Wall clock: Charlie Chaplin's film camera

 Tudor House
I'm a huge fan of the Tudor times and hope to have a Tudor house one day.

Payne's Pharmacy & Floozy's Bedroom
Caroline made a joke about a pharmacy with pills for pain being named after Cynthia Payne, the notorious Madam, and the lodger upstairs being Floozy the showgirl with a heart of gold but bad taste in furry carpets and mirrored ceilings. Floozy is actually a hardworking night club dancer and the fact that she has champagne and two glasses at the ready is strictly her own business.

Mimi & Musetta named after the heroines of Puccini's La Bohéme, but far more virtuous and industrious than their namesakes, these two have set up an over-the-top pink and pretty hat shop with haberdashery and dressmaking upstairs.

Steptoe & Son
These two do look just like old man Steptoe and his long suffering son Harold

Earl's Court
There's a lot going on in this house occupied by arty types.
On the ground floor Caroline is obsessed with making dollshouses
in what was once the smart front room.
The fortune teller occupies the first floor in her Egyptian themed room.
The genie has escaped from the bottle.

 The second floor is occupied by a photographer in a Chinese themed room

An artist occupies the attic.

And a potter is in the conservatory

The Bluebell Bakery
From top left
Set of six Matroshka Russian dolls inside each other
Diamond brooch with working pin, in a silver box
Imari bowl: Lute 

The Mobile Home
Caroline found this in a shop in Twickenham which occasionally had some dollshouse items.

The Mouse House
How clever is this lovely little diorama.
The house is made from full scale skirting boards with a wooden house behind. The room is full of everyday items we have in our homes - cotton reels, screws, paper clips, fridge magnets, matches, pasta shapes, buttons, a tooth brush. Miss Mouse is a great collector of bits and pieces that she converts for her own use. I love the idea of a tiny mouse running around the house after the family have gone to bed collecting all manner of things.  I really want to make one of these!

And finally Versailles, The One That Got Away!

This is absolutely beautiful
It is the house that Caroline took with her when she moved to her retirement flat.
She couldn't live without a dollshouse and this one holds very personal memories for her.

I thought this would be a long post, there are many more houses in the book,
it was difficult knowing when to stop!

As well as all the gorgeous dolls houses Newby also houses Gyles Brandreth's delightful collection of teddy bears. The Bears have been lovingly collected over the years by Gyles and his wife Michele. Unfortunately the lighting was poor.

Teddy Bear parlour & Teddy Bear picnic

Teddy Bear Royals & Teddy Bear nursery

Teddy Bear wedding & The Hermann Dressed bears 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the houses or just looking at them and the teddy bears.

Be well ~ 
Polly x


  1. These dollhouses are such works of art. The Tudor is my favorite.

    1. Hi Michelle, they are. I'm in awe of artisans who make them.

  2. Oh wow, how amazing are all those dollhouses! I love the detail - it fascinates me. I just want to shrink myself down and live in them.

    1. Hi Sheila, that is what I was saying as I was walking round, OH WOW they are all gorgeous. .

  3. I would go absolutely bonkers there. That is so fabulous, so amazing. I think you would have had to drag me out!

    1. Hi Jeanie, I could have stayed there for hours looking at them over and over again, because each time you go back and look again you see something different each time :-)

  4. Hi Polly! :D
    I LOVE this post about Caroline Hamilton and Jane Fiddick's dollhouse collections! Their exploration of different period styles coupled with their equally Discerning Tastes in minis, is always a joy to see! I have one of Ms. Hamilton's earlier books, but the one you've used, pictures some projects I hadn't seen before.
    I think that my favourite is the the Pink Gothic too, but I can see where,how and why your enthusiasm was ignited for doing a Mouse House - an EXCELLENT IDEA! :D


    1. Hi Elizabeth, this mouse house has been on my mind all week, I'm planning it in my head and collecting all manner of things, and trying to work out how to construct the wooden exterior!

  5. That looks absolutely amazing!

    1. Hi Liz, it is a truly beautiful stunning collection. I'm so glad I bought the book.


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