The Dolls House of New Eltham

Heirlooms have always been a source of fascination for me – I come from a small family and was always so jealous to hear people talk of owning their great grandmothers jewelry, or great great grandfather’s war medals.  Now I finally have my own heirloom!

This is a dolls house built by my great grandad Ernest Donald.  He built it sometime in the 1960s for my mother & aunt.  I spent a large portion of my childhood at my Nana’s house in New Eltham, South East London and I always looked forward to playing with the dolls house.

When my parents moved to the US in 2008, they took the dolls house with them.  It remained in the moving box in the basement until earlier this year.  They were clearing their house of ‘junk’ and asked me if I wanted this.

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I was excited to see it again and for my kids to have the opportunity to play with it.  I was not expecting the wave of emotion that came over me when I unwrapped it all.   Besides the carpets coming unstuck, the house and contents were in perfect condition.  As I opened its doors, the smell of my Nana’s house hit me.  This caused me to immediately burst into tears, because I miss my grandparents and their house terribly (they are still living in the same house that I visited as a child).  So many memories as I unwrapped all the little furniture.

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My children were curious when I pulled it out of the closet today.  We have a lot of pets, so I keep the house tucked away in there to protect it from claws & bites.  They have never played with a dolls house before, and especially one that looks like this!  It is solid wood with real glass windows, opposed to the usual flimsy plastic that modern doll houses are made of.

It made my heart so happy to see their faces light up as I showed them all the little pieces of furniture and the dolls.  My daughter played for with it for well over an hour (a miracle with a 2 year old!).  I have always felt an extra special connection to my great grandad, so it makes it even more bittersweet.  I wonder when he was building it, if he knew that one day his great great granddaughter would be playing with it?   This is one heirloom I hope will continue down through the generations.

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