Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lines Letchworth Doll's House 1912-1914

This is the third house from my grandmother - my sister's house, which my grandmother called 'Roseville' after the place we lived when my sister was a baby. I sent photographs of this house to Marion Osborne in 2002, along with the photos of my Lines house (No. 17). Marion Osborne identified this one as the Letchworth doll's house, which appeared in Harrods catalogues in 1912 and 1914. It does not appear in her reference book Lines and Tri-ang Dollshouses and Furniture 1900-1971, as she did not then have the information.

I'm sorry that this photo is a bit washed out - I took it some time ago. However, it does show the front pretty clearly. The house is a bit of a mystery - in the catalogue, it is described and shown as having an open front, and a related house, the "Garden City", is shown with open sides as well as an open front. Marion Osborne thought it was possible that Lines had changed the design, but not the artwork, to include sides and a front - she noted that the balustrades and pediments were correct (except the flat balustrades downstairs).
The house has definitely been repainted. When my grandmother acquired this house, in the 1960s, not much was known of dolls' house makers. I do remember my grandmother remarking on the blue mansard roof, and the house may have been thought to be a French 'Blue Roof' house (since identified as actually made by the German company Gottschalk). The original roofing would most likely have been tiled paper.
Several of the original green window blinds have survived.

This is the left side of the dolls' house, with the front door.

Inside are two small rooms, decorated by my grandmother as a kitchen and children's room. All rooms have the original Lines fireplaces (though I'm not sure that the paint colours are all original).

In the kitchen, the kitchenmaid Bessie is at work. Bessie and the parlour-maid Darlow are cloth dolls which were given to my sister when she was small, and are most likely modern (1960s).

The large central rooms are furnished as a dining room, where another maid is cleaning out the fireplace:

and drawing room, where Darlow has just shown in a visitor.

The rooms have been repapered. As Marion Osborne pointed out, the red and gold paper in the dining room appears in a 1952 Hobbies catalogue, along with the parquet floor paper (surprisingly described as 'Lino Floor Paper'). A tiny bit of the original floor paper can be seen in the doorway between the drawing room and the children's room. I don't have a good picture of it - I think of it as oakleaf patterned tiles.

On the far side is the staircase, with doors leading into the two large central rooms. I think the paint, including the lines, on the staircase may be original; on some of the internal doors, faint lines are visible under the paint, suggesting that they may originally have been decorated like the staircase, and repainted at some time.

Thank you very much Marion for identifying this dolls' house!


  1. WOW - lucky you (or your sister ?) sarah.x

  2. Very, very lucky! All three given to us by my grandmother are at my mum's place, so I get to look after my sister's as well as mine. I must admit that it doesn't stop me coveting the Triang Princess dolls house my grandmother also had, which is now in the Brighton Toy museum!

  3. Now you're talking - Tri-ang Princess - lovely !! One day i hope to own one - Sarah means Princess in Hebrew so I feel its my destiny !! sarah.x

  4. That is a really fascinating house, thank you for sharing it!
    Lizzie x

  5. Was this house built by a company within Letchworth Garden City or elsewhere?

    1. Hi Maxine, Thanks for visiting! No, the company of G & J Lines was based in London. They probably chose the name Letchworth after the newly established garden city, to give this model of their dolls houses a 'desirable lifestyle' image.