Saturday, 11 October 2014

"Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs"

Well, of worms anyway.   And come to think of it I hope that I can also talk of the epitaphs and graves of said worms.   (I thought I would take a leaf out of Butterfly's book and quote Shakespeare on this fine autumn day.   There seems to be very little he did not cover, including the dreaded task of woodworming a dolls house.   It's all in how you interpret the quotes.....)

I was very excited when, at some point last year, I found this 1930s house on English ebay.  

It did get a brief mention part way through this post but I don't think that I ever reported that I removed it from storage during my brief visit to the UK in June this year and since then it has been sitting in the garage here, still in its wrappings, and waiting for the second coat of woodworm killer.   

Nearly every week this summer I could be heard muttering "I must do that house" but nothing happened.

At several points since I paid for it the thought has crossed my mind that it is proving more trouble than it is worth.   I had difficulty contacting the seller to arrange collection; a friend living in Cumbria kindly agreed to collect it for me and when contact was finally made with the seller, just before the deadline set by ebay for raising a dispute, it proved to be much bigger than I had realised.   It barely fitted in her car and because she and her husband didn't realise all those openings latch firmly into place, some of them almost parted company with the house during transport.

Then when she and I met, halfway between Herts and Cumbria - and what better place to meet than here to effect the exchange? - we almost couldn't get it into my car.

So to discover, when I took off the blankets in which it was swathed, and looked at it more carefully, that it was riddled with woodworm holes, was almost the final straw.   Not a mention of them in the ebay description.   But by then it was too late to do anything about it.   I don't really think the seller could have missed them though!   

You can even see them with the naked eye in the photo - and that's just a tiny sample of them. 

But it is a lovely house, and although the thought of unwrapping it from its giant plastic covers and re-treating it has been weighing heavily on my mind, I am delighted to report that when I did get round to it this afternoon, I fell in love with it all over again.   The reason I spotted it on ebay in the first place is that it reminded me of the house we left, after forty happy years, exactly this time last year.   

Butterfly doesn't agree that it resembles Morley House, but my granddaughter does! 

I took the opportunity of the unwrapping, and the gloriously sunny day, to do what I had forgotten to do before encasing it in plastic last April, which is to take some photos.   Because I would very much welcome some ideas about its provenance.   It seems to me that it is probably based on a real house - one could actually move around it as one would in the real world.   Delightful - but it makes it very hard to brush woodworm killer all over it.   As far as I can tell, the front does not open at all, unless I am missing some secret catches somewhere.

The back, on the other hand, opens fully but with individual "doors" for each room.

The windows and interior doors all open beautifully, although some windows have missing glass.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
The glass in the top of the bay windows is etched. 

There are two features which particularly delight me - there are built-in cupboards in both of the bedrooms..... 

 ...and there is a hatch through from one of the front rooms to the kitchen (no door into the kitchen though....) 

The second shot is taken through the hatch....

Another nice feature are the two little rooms on each corner at the back.  

One is a kadibudka, a delightful Czech word I have learned since opening Small Worlds, and the other I guess is for storage.

There is a garage, complete with ramp, and steps up to the front door.   The ramp and steps can be seen getting special treatment, along with parts of the kadibudka and a stray section of the side wall. 

There are fireplaces in each of the four rooms, three of them tiled....

And for once there are more chimney pots than fireplaces - there must be an early gas boiler somewhere around! 

Whilst I do think this may be based on a real house, I do not know very much about the early Hobbies houses.   It did cross my mind that this could be one of them,  so I am hoping for some information from the knowledgeable members of the Dolls Houses Past and Present website.   I certainly recognise some of the wallpaper - and I am not sure that I can live with it.  

But since this is a house I want to keep in its original condition as far as possible I think the rooms with the brown wallpaper - I hate brown and orange - will have the "wallpaper pasted onto card and slid into place over the original" trick played on them.   Information on the papers used would be very welcome.

The roof is papered as one can see from the photo of the chimney pots, but the house walls are painted and the brickwork been drawn on - a tedious and precise task to undertake.   

Endearingly, the "grouting" for the upper part of the walls is white and that below, black. 

Other nice touches include a working door knocker, proper windowsills, some panelled interior doors and built-in curtain pole supports.....

Covering the entire surface of the house with woodworm killer, inside and out earlier today, made me very aware of its size.   It's four foot long, by nearly two foot high and 31 inches deep.   I was hugely relieved when I unwrapped it not to find any trace of dead woodworm beetles - I know from having had to have experts in to look at my fullsize house this summer, that they would have made an appearance around June.   Also no sign of fresh frass.   So I am crossing my fingers that all the holes were made many years ago and that both treatments were just precautionary.

The house has now been well wrapped up again until I get back to the Czech Republic in late spring - I set off for England at the end of this week - so I will leave you with a photo of it cosily tucked up for hibernation.......

and I look forward to seeing you again very soon.

This year I have managed to take many photos in Small Worlds so that I can continue to blog whilst away. As always, my thanks to you for following my adventures.

PS  I have no idea at all what to do with the house once it is out of quarantine. Those of you following the blog will know that Small Worlds is already as full as it can be.

Ah well, I guess something will occur to me, fortunately it usually does!


  1. That's so unfair - of course I accept it RESEMBLES 84 - you were trying to tell me it was EXACTLY like it… which it isn't. The proportions are different… bays squatter and wider. Have to say I think the colours are pretty hideous! As you know, I'm not big on the preservation for the sake of it… could be much lovelier. Very happy to hear woodworm treatment seems to be working - worth all the effort.

  2. Also, if anything, I'd say it's closer to the 1920s and 30s versions of our turn of the century house - the overall feel is completely different. So I'm sticking to my guns!!

    1. Well yes, you are right - it's very definitely 1930s I'd say. All the interior bits indicate that too.

      And I agree about the colours......I am at war with myself on this one!

  3. It is a fabulous house Cestina, well worth the effort.

  4. It looks like a wonderful project and the woodworm holes will add character. Can't wait to see what you do with it in the future-it looks very like your old house to me but don't tell Butterfly will you--shhh

    Love Chrissie xx

    Love Chrissie xx

  5. I can certainly see a resemblance, and what a beautiful house you left!! Hope when you get back to the Czech Republic you will have decided how to restore it and display it. I await with baited breath.

  6. Great house, is it 1/12th scale?

    1. Yes definitely 1/12th scale....nice big rooms, other than the kitchen and bathroom. The bath is far too small, as is the toilet

  7. What a delightful house this is (maybe not all the paper) and I'm sure it will turn into a wonderful home for one of the families that are, no doubt, already taking shape in your mind!
    I look forward to ready the further adventures :-)


  8. Its most def worth all the effort its an absolutely charming house and I can imagine it was very easy to fall in love with! It will be magical when its all repaired and filled up!!

  9. That's a great house! I don't know how you will be able to wait to work on it. But it will give you time to gather up some great ideas.
    Happy travels!

  10. I find this house strangely appealing. It looks like its owners have only just departed. The wallpaper is striking and I like the thought that it will be preserved behind a new layer. I love the back opening arrangement - how satisfying when playing!

    You know - I think this house has many stories to tell…just saying….

    Andrea x