Tate Baby House

 Tate Baby House, dolls' house, England c.1760 Museum no. W.9-1930

One of a group of very fine 18th century dolls' or 'baby' (meaning small) houses, this is said to have been modelled on an 18th century Dorset house, where it was made. It last belonged to Mrs Walter Tate. The Museum bought the house after her death in accordance with her wishes.

Made in about 1760, it is a complex structure which comes apart in several sections so that the owner, usually the mistress of the house, could take it on her travels. She would take great pleasure in choosing wallpapers and furniture for it.

The furniture is not contemporary with the house, having been updated in 1830 and at regular intervals afterwards. In 18th century houses, the furniture was arranged formally around the walls. The windows have lost their glazing bars, which would have given them an authentic twelve paned look instead of the two panes which were popular in the 19th century. A painted window on the side of the house shows what the windows should look like. The stand is a much later addition, probably made in the early 1900s.

Children would have been allowed to play with the house occasionally under supervision. Although toy shops were well established by the time the Tate house was made, it was more usual for such a grand house to be a hobby for the mistress of the house. Guests would take small presents such as a little silver kettle as a token of thanks for their hostess's hospitality.




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