Monday, 5 January 2015

A family heirloom

In 2001 I signed up for a two year City and Guilds course called Victorian Heirlooms, where we learnt how to re-create many Victorian crafts and techniques as well as learning about 19th century history and famous people alongside it. The Pre Raphaelites, The Arts and Crafts Movement including William Morris, William de Morgan. Authors such as Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens; designers and gardeners Edwin Lutyens, Paxton and Gertrude Jekyll to name but a few. Fabulous course which has stayed with me forever.

As a final piece of work we had to produce an heirloom using many of the techniques we had used during the course such as embroidery, paint effects, ageing and distressing paper, wood and fabric. I decided on a doll house but one with a difference as it was to be a shop and this shop would be a replica of John's grandfather's shop he owned in Histon, Cambridgeshire in the early 1900s named J.T. Marshall - General Stores and Tobacconist.

I bought the house which I had to put together and paint, tile the roof, added chimney pots, plastic windows with adverts on, put up shelves and skirting boards, laid fake linoleum to the floors, lighting and so on and so forth. It was fun and I spent many hours and many pennies furnishing the shop area with suitable pieces to scale.

(please excuse the quality of the photos - I had to take pictures of photos in my folder)

I tried to replicate it as much as I could from this one photo

It was very fiddly trying to put all the groceries out on show. 
I made all the fruit and bread with a polymer clay

 and also all the sacks and carrier bags from paper and linen

as well as the shop sign and adverts for the windows

After my coursework and the house/shop project was completed (which I passed) it went up into our loft. I didn't have time to complete the house part as I was going on to do my History degree and simply didn't have the time.

So, what to do with this now you may ask. Well my three youngest grandchildren who carry on the family name aged 8, 5 and 2 years old have just taken possession of their great, great grandfather's shop together with a potted history of his life.

 It was a picture on Christmas afternoon to see their faces when I uncovered it -

and a delight to know it will remain in the family for the foreseeable future.

Have you got any heirlooms to pass down to future generations?

Have a good week.


  1. Not like that, wow and double wow! Hardly any heirlooms except photographs.

  2. No real heirlooms here unfortunately but yours is absolutely fantastic! Suzy x

  3. How lovely! What a great thing to do and I bet the children will have a lot of fun and happy memories from it!

  4. How lovely! You did a great job with all the details and fixtures and fittings. Jx

  5. It's wonderful and you should be very proud of it. I'm sure the children will treasure it.

  6. How lovely to know that all the love and hard work you put into the dolls house will be cherished by your grand children and maybe handed down over the generations to come . I also have a dolls house which i have been gradually adding to over the years. I hope my two little grand daughters will appreciate mine one day.......xx

  7. That is delightful - you made a wonderful job of the shop. Is the building still in Histon? If so, you could have a family trip there sometime with the grandchildren.
    I have given each of my DiLs a ring of mine, and when all of my granddaughters reach the age of 18 I have a ring for them too. The two eldest have reached 18 and it makes me happy to see them wearing and enjoying them.

  8. What a lovely heirloom, Patricia, and you have made it so beautifully. The course you did in 2001 sounds fantastic - how I would enjoy that too! And what a wonderful Christmas delight to unveil it for your grandchildren - you must have been thrilled with their response. You appear to have chosen the perfect moment. Happy New Year! x

  9. What a wonderful thing to be able to pass down and to see it being used and enjoyed. Happy New Year. x

  10. Patricia, this is incredible. I absolutely love miniatures and yours is so detailed. The course sounds fascinating too, right up my alley. I love the photos of you with the grandchildren, everyone is so engaged and you look like you're having such a good time.

  11. What a lovely heirloom I'm sure the children will treasure it knowing you created it too. I have my granny's mirror and my grandfather's ring and watch chain plus photos but nothing as lovely as the shop you have created:)

  12. Dear Patricia.
    How artistic and clever are you!! The replica of the shop is wonderful.
    What a lovely subject to work on. You must have had days of delight making it
    Inbetween finalising your degree..
    Such a super photo of your little grandaughters.. sheer delight for them.. and its real.. you can tell them stories about it ..
    super post Patricia..
    I had a couple of jewellery pieces.. I handed them down to my daughter. I have a Royal Albert tea set , that my mum gave me when I was about 25..and she had used it for years ,and a waterford crystal perfume atomizer..with the ball to pump out the perfume. My sister has most of her things.

  13. A fantastic family heirloom, you have recreated it so beautifully. It must have been such a magical moment seeing your grandchildren playing with it. As you know I am keen on family history and I think it so important for the younger generation to appreciate their ancestors too. Sarah x

  14. Hello Patricia, what a lovely story and what a beautiful house....
    Erna x

  15. OMG Patricia!! How utterly beautiful, creative and just all round wonderful!!!! This is an amazing heirloom for your family, and wonderful work by you. I am sure that it will be treasured by many generations of your family yet to come. xx

  16. What a wonderful idea to pass the shop/house along to your grandchildren! It seems to perfectly suit the spirit of creating an heirloom. :-)

  17. Wow your dolls house shop is amazing.. all that detail. What a wonderful piece of history for your grandchildren :o) x

  18. Wonderful house and shop, Patricia! I think it's very important for your grandchildren to see and know the family heirloom! Well done!

  19. Wow! An amazing heirloom. So lovely that the doll's house has connections to your family's history. Now wondering what I will be handing down. Crochet blankets? Any excuse to make another.

  20. How wonderful, Patricia! Such a good project to have undertaken and I'm sure the family will treasure it. My youngest sister is a keen doll's house maker and I know how time-consuming and detailed the work is.


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