Britain's most treasured dolls' houses to go on display

A collection of Britain's most precious dolls' houses from the past 300 years are set to go on display in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum Of Childhood.

Small Stories: At Home In A Dolls' House will showcase designs of country mansions, Georgian town houses, suburban villas, council housing and high-rise apartments.

The exhibition will feature 1,900 objects, including furniture and dolls, and is set to tour the UK, Europe and the US after it finishes its run at the east London museum next December.

Highlights will include The Tate Baby House, dating from 1760, which was owned by five or six generations, passed down from mother to eldest daughter.

The dolls' house includes original wallpapers and painted paneling in the style of Robert Adam and a lying-in room for a pregnant doll.
The Tate baby house includes original wallpapers and painted paneling in the style of Robert Adam and a lying-in room for a pregnant doll. Credit: Victoria & Albert Museum/PA

The dolls' house includes original wallpapers and painted paneling in the style of Robert Adam and a lying-in room for a pregnant doll.

Another, built in the 1830s, features a Chinese-style cabinet with gilded wallpapers, a four-poster bed and liveried servants.

The 'Killer House' was a gift from surgeon John Egerton Killer to his wife and daughters at the time.

The Chinese-style cabinet is lavishly appointed with gilded wallpapers, a four-poster bed and servant dolls.
The Chinese-style cabinet is lavishly appointed with gilded wallpapers, a four-poster bed and servant dolls. Credit: Victoria & Albert Museum/PA

A modernist villa from the 1930s comes complete with chrome furniture, a cocktail bar, futurist artworks and a swimming pool.

The Whiteladies House, designed by artist Moray Thomas and built in the 1930s, reflects the country villas emerging in Hampstead.
The Whiteladies House, designed by artist Moray Thomas and built in the 1930s, reflects the country villas emerging in Hampstead. Credit: Victoria & Albert Museum/PA

Kaleidoscope House, a modernist villa from 2001, is the most contemporary with its multi-coloured translucent walls for the dolls to enjoy.

Designed by Laurie Simmons, it features sliding, interchangeable walls, photographs and paintings, as well as some contemporary and stylish furniture.

The rooms are filled with miniature replicas of Ron Arad, Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger.
The rooms are filled with mini replicas of Ron Arad, Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger. Credit: Victoria & Albert/PA

This dolls' house was designed in the style of the 1940s, to show a Second World War-era family in a council house preparing for an air-raid, with gas masks, ration books and torches.

The house was made in England by Roma Hopkinson, between the late 1980s to 1990s.

This dolls' house was designed in the style of the 1940s in England by Roma Hopkinson.
This dolls' house was designed in the style of the 1940s in England by Roma Hopkinson. Credit: Victoria & Albert Museum/PA

The oldest house in the exhibition dates from 1712, and the largest one is 160cm tall, and many of the houses on display for the first time will be collectors items, never intended to be enjoyed by children. Curator Alice Sage said she hopes the display will have something for all the family.

Dolls' houses are uncanny things, full of strangely familiar objects and funny little characters.

The experience of peeking into the tiny rooms and seeing all the meticulous detail is fascinating for children and adults, and hopefully everyone will discover something new."

– Alice Sage, Curator