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Object history note
The doll was dressed in fashionable costume by the Powell family. Letitia Clark (born 1741), who married a London merchant called David Powell (born 1725) at the church of St Botolph's Bishopsgate, London in 1761, had a hobby of dressing dolls in the prevailing fashions of her day, in some instances copying her own clothes. Her earliest one shows a dress of 1754. Letitia died in 1801 and David in 1810, but their descendants continued this tradition of dressing dolls until 1912. The dolls were presented to the museum in two gifts: Letitia's great grandson Harry J Powell (born c 1853) gave the earlier group (1754-1853 plus one later one), which came with a number of accompanying pieces of set dressing, such as to-scale tables, chairs and china, in 1919. In 1939 his sister Miss Beatrice P Powell (born c 1863) gave a further twenty four, which wore costumes from 1860-1912), of which this is one. This group did not have accompanying furniture, but often appropriate accessories, including a doll with a tennis racket, one with a croquet mallet and one with a bicycle; one was dressed in mouring for Queen Victoria's death in 1901.
Harry and Beatrice Powell and their siblings were doubly descendants of Letitia and David, as their parents Agnes and Nathaniel were Powell cousins. The family at one time owned the Whitefriars glass company, and also included the founder of the Scouting movement, Robert Baden-Powell.
Wax-headed doll in 'Dolly Varden' costume (character in Charles Dickens's 1841 novel 'Barnaby Rudge'): dark printed cotton dress over quilted petticoat of maroon silk; white hat with maroon ribbons, dressed by Powell family; England, 1869