A Home…at last

After a few years on the miniature scene, one roombox and one ‘display’ house ( which we built ) later….I am , it seems, finally about to succumb to the joys of dolls house owning!

The 17th century parlour..our display roombox.

I have told you all that I don’t own a dolls house and that I didn’t have one as a child. Do I feel that I was deprived? No, not at all. I had lots of other things to play with. But at the tender age of 55, I do feel a teensy weensy bit short changed and so I am, I hope, about to acquire my very first proper dolls house.

It came about like this.

You all know that I have been making a special dummy board for Julie Campbell of Bellabelle Dolls. In the process I have been looking at lots of dolls house and miniature blogs and websites and have felt – yes- rather left out in that I haven’t an ongoing little project like Julie’s Edwardian Toyshop or Debbie’s ( Tower House Dolls ) Nursery; something that will absorb me for years to come and be really worthwhile in the making and the collecting for. I also, it transpires, need a proper home, at last, for some of my dummy boards, somewhere for them to live when they are not “on show”. { and for the ones I want to keep 🙂 }

Master Nathaniel Trumpington- well, that is what we call the V&A servant in Livery!

And so, when my husband ( who is the handiest person alive when it comes to DIY and ‘jobs’ ) told me that he was bored and needed a hobby, I began to think that I might get him to make me a dolls house.

Not any old dolls house mind you.

I want UPPARK!

That gem of an 18th century house- Uppark

Have any of you been to this most delightful of West Sussex gems? It is quite simply one of the most beautiful 18th century country houses I have ever been to and the only one I have ever truly wanted to live in. ( Well I love Baroque but you can’t live in it can you?)

If you visit this National Trust beauty, you enter the house through a ‘museum’ of a ticket office which shows a video of the house the night it burnt down!

The fiery furnace...Uppark in flames 1989

Now, I am not a particularly sentimental soul, I am not given easily to displays of emotion – but when I saw this horrific but quite morbidly compelling footage, – I cried. I couldn’t help it. ( Good job there weren’t too many visitors the day we were there, but I have to say I wasn’t the only one).

There was a deathly hush as the film was played and a collective groan as the beautiful plaster ceiling of the mid 18th century Blue Salon, fell through the floor into the room below.

The Blue Salon and my favourite room at Uppark.

Grown men were trying to control their quivering lower lips. People were fiddling with their rings and biting their quicks.! It was rather like watching a ship sink. It truly was one of the most horrible things I have ever witnessed….

For someone like me who absolutely loves and lives for the history and for the skill and dedication of those 17th and 18th century artisans who created that most gracious and elegant of buildings we know and love – that phenomena, our ‘Stately Homes of England’, it was an awful, awful sight.

BUT when we eventually enter the restored house… the shock of the ‘new’, is even more breathtaking!

Who ever says that the 21st century craftsmen and women ( or in this case the late 20th ) cannot match the perfection of the 18th…think again. It is practically impossible to tell the difference ( except where they want you to see it ), between the surviving historic work and the modern copy, renovation and restoration.
True- they did have to commandeer the few and very best artisans they could find ( not all British either ) to rebuild it; they did have to train young people on the job, they did have to do a tremendous amount of trial and error before they got it right, but By Heavens have they got it right!

It was a privilege to walk around that house and see what they had managed to do to a dying house; a house that might so easily have gone the way of the many derelict mansions dotted about our countryside.

And so, my house will be a tribute….AN Uppark…Not a slavish copy… I can’t afford that. I can’t run to commissioning the actual wonderful carpets and the actual beautiful furniture, but I can ( we can hopefully ) build one very similar and I will fill it with as near to the actual objects as I can.

Much of the work I will be able to do myself, of course.The paintings, the trompe l’oeil that sort of thing. Stephen will be the builder and you….my miniature producing friends – will be the hired help!

I will people it with dummy boards of the right era, right down to the smallest and meanest kitchen maid.

It will be a very long process, but then anything that is worth doing, often is.I will do my best to document it here….in between writing about dummy boards.

And probably, when it is finished…I will cry.

Again. 🙂

5 Responses to “A Home…at last”

  1. julie Says:

    Oh Sue I am so excited for you !
    Firstly though Thank You ! little Belle arrived today looking so perfect I almost shed a tear :0) she is wonderful and I am now busily trying to finish work on my shop windows so she can be displayed in her proper home . I will be posting her on my blog as soon as I have some progress.
    back to your project now, you are going to have so much fun with this.
    The best mini projects are ones close to your heart and so you have made the perfect choice. I will look forward to seeing it progress.
    Get ready for it to take over your life LOL
    julie xxx

  2. Debbie Says:

    Sue its going to be wonderful. What a fantastic project and we get to go on the journey with you. xx

  3. Jean Day Says:

    It sounds like a wonderful idea, good for you!! Can’t wait to see your Uppark coming to life. It will definitely keep your husband busy. My DH used to make houses and room boxes but found he was allergic to sawdust, such a shame because he really enjoyed it.

  4. pastmastery Says:

    Thank you Jean, Debbie and Julie.

    You are right…Julie, I’m sure that ‘Uppark’ will consume us both! It will be as you say Debbie, a ‘journey’. We will need help and support along the way and with a bunch of talented miniaturists like all of you… we shall get it!

    Glad little Belle has made herself welcome too 🙂

    Sad that your husband, Jean, can no longer build houses…maybe there is some other mini work he can do?

    Now to work on the plans!


  5. A little Brown to our White… « Pastmastery's Blog Says:

    […] around a few ideas about    ” Downpark”, our proposed dolls house project ( see A Home at Last ) but nothing is as yet on paper. We shall probably do some work on it over Easter and if we do, […]

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