The Killer Cabinet dolls' house
An elegant example of a dolls' house in a cabinet, made in the early 1800s and commissioned by a Manchester doctor, Dr John Killer.
This house is quite special because it is has been set up in a cabinet and not in a miniature building. Both Dutch and German influences can be seen in early 18th century English houses but, by the end of the century, the preference in England was for buildings in miniature. Another fine English example of a cabinet house is the Westbrook Baby House (1705), but most early 18th century dolls' houses were a combination of cabinet and miniature building for some time.
The most magnificent examples today are found in Dutch museums. The cabinet houses were discreetly ostentatious and setting them up required great devotion by the owners. Wealthy Dutch merchants' wives in the 17th century spent large amounts of money on their domestic hobby.
The Killer Cabinet House is a late example, dating from 1800 to the 1830s. It became known as the Killer House because it was commissioned by John Egerton Killer, a Manchester doctor. Noticing that the ladies in his house had made a number of miniature objects suitable for a dolls' house, he ordered a copy of a favourite cabinet for the purpose of providing the ladies with a house to stage their work.
The home retains the feel of the previous century but also has an air of pleasant informality. It is divided into four rooms - the drawing and morning rooms, bedroom and kitchen. Many of the furnishings were provided by the family, such as a chair made from pheasant feathers, but Dr Killer also ordered things from London, which would be carried upstairs by the footmen before being unwrapped for the family to enjoy.