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Dolls' house - Bettiscombe


  • Object:

    Dolls' house

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss S.Pinney

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Betty Pinney was born in 1907, the youngest of four girls. She studied art and later on designed wallpapers and textiles for the Edinburgh Weavers and then for Sandersons. She designed book covers, railway posters and also illustrated books. The dolls' house was found by a friend who ran an antique shop and sold to Betty Pinney for £5. The house was made in about 1870.

Her daughter Susanna tells us that her mother decided to recreate her childhood in miniature combining this with a family who had worked abroad for the Empire which gave her greater freedom with the furnishings. She was an accomplished seamstress and made many of the furnishings herself. Other items were given to her by friends or made for her. The house is therefore a portrait of life in a wealthy household from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. It has two unusual features in that it has a roof garden and a lift which can be operated by turning the handle gently.

Physical description

Rectangular shaped dolls' house of unpainted wood with a flat castellated roof supporting two chimneys. There is a tower adjoining one short end which extends beyond the roof and contains a lift which is operated by turning a metal crank handle at the base. The house is accessible at all sides through six hinged full length doors and one small hinged door.There are also two removable panels in the centre of each long side.The house has three floors: Ground floor with kitchen (with back door), dining room and hallway (with front door and steps); First floor with spare bedroom, drawing room and landing; Second floor with bedroom, chapel, nursery and landing. There is a roof garden which is accessible via the lift in the tower. The rooms are wallpapered and carpetted throughout as well as being fully furnished. All the windows are glazed; with curtains or blinds.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1870 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 110.5 cm, Length: 133.3 cm, Width: 62.2 cm

Descriptive line

'Bettiscombe' dolls' house made in England ca.1870

Production Note

Attribution note: The house was probably made by an estate carpenter in about 1870 and furnished later by the donor's mother Mrs Betty Pinney. Mrs Pinney made some of the furnishings but many were bought or commissioned.




Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys

Production Type



Museum of Childhood

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