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Tuesday 16th June – 20th meeting of 2015 Today we visited the V & A Museum of Childhood just a few minutes walk from Bethnal Green Underground station. It is the National Collection of Childhood and includes toys, dolls and games in the lower galleries and children’s clothes, antique nursery equipment and books in the upper galleries. dh6 The main iron prefabricated structure of the building formed part of a temporary building for the parent museum in South Kensington in 1856 but was removed to the present site in 1860’s and encased in brickwork. Originally food and animal products were displayed there and loan art collections – the first of which was Sir Richard Wallace’s which later became a museum in its own right. It changed to an art museum with a children’s section before becoming a children’s museum in 1974. We sat and had coffee in the cafe situated in the centre of the building around which the galleries are arranged and you can admire the building from here. dh2 We had come to visit the ‘Small Stories – At Home in the a Doll’s House Exhibition’ on the 1st floor and we found a display of 12 dolls houses covering a span of 300 years of varying size and design ranging from a country mansion to a high-rise block! The earliest was a Joy wardrobe from 1712 which was a hanging clothes cupboard in the shape of a house. Then there was a brick-built 1820’s Belgravia House which belonged to the granddaughter of the 1st Jewish Lord Mayor of London and was kept in the hall of their Surrey mansion. dh1 The Killer Cabinet House from the 1840’s was a Chinese style cabinet and was a gift from John Egarton Killer to his wife for their house in Stockport.  It was then passed down the female line and consists of 4 rooms – kitchen, bedroom, sitting room and drawing room. The Amy Mile House 1890 resembled the Manor House, Friern Barnet in the 1860’s where she grew up and was a large dolls house which featured a school room, nursery, a bathroom and the recent innovation – electric light – alongside the main rooms. dh3 Another display house was the Peggy Ive Home from the 1930’s.  Her father ran a toy company which then made dolls houses.  It was a traditional house resembling Leigh Place, Godstone where they lived as a family.  Peggy later went onto become Chairman of Hamley’s of London. There was a house depicting a London House in the 2nd World War at the time of the Blitz. The windows were taped and gas mask boxes hung in the house and featured a New World cooker, vacuum cleaner, Lloyd Loom chairs etc.  The dolls were dressed in gymslips typical of the day. A completely different house was the Jenny House 1965-70’s which was 8 storeys and launched in conjunction with House and Garden magazine in 1965.  It was made up of simple plastic box units slotted together to make a tower and fitted out. dh The final exhibit was the Dream House which was specially commissioned in which 19 artists and designers have each created a magical miniature room.  There were many and various in different colours and styles but put together to make a whole display house.  It was delightful and the attention to detail made it a fitting end to a lovely exhibition. An amazing exhibition which was a pleasure to see and we all went home feeling very happy with many memories of our childhood fresh in our minds!

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