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Dolls' House

Private Collection

Dolls' House

This much-loved dolls’ house was made circa 1945 by a WWI veteran for my mother when she was a young girl in Cremorne, Sydney, Australia. So far it has been used by four girls from three generations. It was brought to Christchurch in January 2013.

The veteran was Jimmy (William Christopher) Brown born 1894 who along with his wife were close friends and neighbours of my mother’s family. Mr and Mrs Brown were not able to have children and they doted on my Mum. The dolls’ house and a full set of furniture were made by hand using many recycled materials.

Jimmy served as a stretcher-bearer in France. He survived the war but always suffered from the after effects of mustard gas. He met his wife in England and brought her back to Australia. Jimmy was by no means a political radical but thought no-one should be forced to go to war, and he refused to participate in ANZAC day marches.

When his hands and handwriting became too shaky my Mum sent him letters along with cassette tapes to reply to her with. In 1982, Mum asked him “Why did you go to war?”. Jimmy replied that the main reason was to escape an insufferably boring job working on a shoe assembly line in Melbourne.

The dolls’ house with new curtains, carpet, paint and a new set of furniture, was given to my daughter for Christmas when she was 4 years old.