Thursday, 6 December 2012

The life and times of Rose

Welome to my new follower Betty. It's lovely to meet you and hope you enjoy what you find here.
With Christmas on its way and children eagerly awaiting their presents from Father Christmas, I thought I'd introduce you to Rose who has been in the family since Victorian times and was given to me at Christmas when I was five years old. Rose was made in Germany in the mid 1890s (she has a mark on the back of her neck) and made her way to a toy shop in France where she was given to my maternal grandmother who was born in 1899 in the town of Valenciennes, France


Alice, my grandmother was an only child of Alphonse and Victorine Mercier (born in the 1870s) and they owned the local Boulangerie in Valenciennes. During the first World War Alice met William Wells, my grandfather who was stationed in nearby Mons. They married in 1921 and moved to England where they had my mum Stella and my Uncle Jack. Mum remembers visiting her French grandparents every year and on one trip in 1931was given Rose to take back home with her and she had to be wrapped in a blanket for the rough ferry ride home.  There she stayed with the family for many years cherished and played with by my mum who would often take her out in a pram. On one such occasion she was spotted by the lady in the local wool shop and asked if Rose would 'model' some knitted toddlers clothes in the shop window. The customers loved her and she stayed there for several months.

Mum and dad married in 1946 and we moved to Canvey Island in 1950 where Rose was introduced to a new life by the sea and new friends. I too pushed her in my pram.

Her body is made of a kind of very hard papier mache which has been painted and glazed and her limbs are jointed and strung together, as is her head. She is 30 inches long and really isn't a baby doll at all. Us girls made a huge fuss of her - she was taken here and taken there;  shared with friends; taken to the shops - simply treated like another member of the family and at times was to be found plonked on top of a box of toys. She really wasn't treated too well I'm afraid - hence a few missing fingers and chipped paint on her limbs.

and her head is porcelain with real hair

After I married in 1970 she was sadly put in the loft. I brought her down about fifteen years ago to find that all the strings had rotted and she was literally falling apart. I sent her to a Doll's Hospital where she was put back together. My children weren't too keen on her - thinking she looked too human so she was once again relegated to the loft. One day no doubt she will be passed on to my grand daughters, who I'm sure will love her as much as I have.

Rose came down from the dreaded loft last weekend (she's been up and down like a yo yo over the years) and when I think of all she's gone through and how much she was played with for nearly 120 years my heart goes in my mouth. But she's come through it okay don't you think?

Have you got any family heirlooms you'd like to share?
Have a great weekend


  1. Dear Patricia,
    This is a story to warm anyone's heart. If only Rose could talk! She could also tell a tale or two. Probably that she didnt like being left up on the shelf.! She needs a nice little chair to sit in and join in with the family.
    Your family history is so interesting. You have French blood.
    You will always have lots to talk about around the tree on christmas eve.
    lovely post Patricia
    thank you

  2. Isn't she wonderful? How lovely that Rose has stayed in the family all this time. Glad you managed to sort out your photos, I hope I managed to help and not confuse you with my ramblings.

  3. Wow. That's amazing that you have a 120 year old doll in your home. And what a beautiful little doll.

  4. What an amazing story about Rose and how wonderful she has stayed in your family for all that time,loved and cherished and played with. I can't imagine that many other homes have such a family treasure.
    Sarah x

  5. Rose is as beautiful as ever. She is a wonderful family treasure and I hope your grand daughters will love her as much as you did.

  6. Dear Patricia, Rose is lovely . . . and what a wonderful heirloom. I am sure that one day you will fine the perfect granddaughter, who will love her as you, your Mum and your Grandmother did. Your story warms my heart :)
    Your blogging sister, Connie

  7. I agree with Val, if Rose could talk imagine how many family stories she would share. And she definitely deserves to have a special place where she can be seen and admired and loved.

    No family heirlooms from my side of the family I'am afraid as my mum is a great "thrower away", anything she doesn't have a use for anymore gets binned. The family on my husband's side is the opposite so he still has most of the toys and games he played with as a child, his grandad's wooden draughts game, etc. all stashed away somewhere and not touched for years.

  8. Rose is beautiful and a treasure to be passed on. That's a wonderful story regarding her 'adventures'
    in different countries. I have a doll exactly like Rose. She's called Queenie (after Queen Victoria) and was given to me when I was a little girl by my paternal Great-Aunts who never married. Queenie has been to Italy several times and back to England when we lived in that country. She continues to sit in an old child's rocking chair and one day she will be given to our only grand daughter.

  9. My first time to your blog. I enjoyed your story because I have a similar one. I was born and raised in France but came to the US to travel and married and still live here. My mother was given a German doll when she was 5 years old, or in 1915. Once, when she came to the States from Paris to visit us I saw her at the airport with her huge doll in her arms. She had brought it to me but was afraid it would break in her suitcase. She is a beautiful doll and will be passed down too.

  10. A great story - I'm surprised Rose has survived everything - not sure whether I like those eyes of hers - they are a bit spooky.

  11. What a wonderful family heirloom to have to pass on to your grand daughters. I love the story behind her, where she was made and how she came to be with you. I always remember my Granny telling me a story about the doll she had one Christmas, it was a wax doll, she left it in front of the fire when she went to bed, in the morning it had melted. That one was never destined to be a family heirloom!:)

  12. I enjoyed reading about your family history. The image of you with your doll pram is so adorable!
    I do not have many items from my childhood, just a few. I do though, have a doll that I keep tucked away. She is old, not near as old as your Rose, but she is special to me. A visit to a doll hospital would be very good for her, but I have never found one here in the US by me.
    One day, one of your granddaughters will see her beauty : )

  13. Rose has done very well to have only lost a couple of fingers after all these years of being played with! Her face and hair still look as pretty as ever (I'm sure).


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