Saturday 18 April 2015

The Victorian Gothic - AKA Hogwarts

Before I start I am mighty tardy with replying to comments, emails , text's and messages....normal communicative service will resume as soon as possible! ;o)

I was extremely fortunate to be able to purchase a rather special doll's house for my collection. It was built as an OOAK commissioned piece (I imagine copied off a real building) some 20 years ago and made by a John Strulger (unsure of the spelling, I think it's incorrect, if anyone out there knows the maker, please say!!! ;o)) ) of Battlesbridge in Essex. Sadly the maker died many years ago and this was his last piece. 

I personally think it's a magnificent and majestic piece. I have never ever seen a doll's house that opens on all 4 sides. It's 2 and a half feet by just over 2 and half feet so not enormous, but it's high! It isn't electrified and I can see why that would be a  I may have to opt for hidden LED's, or wall LED's (not as unattractive as the hanging ones). However, I may also opt for artisan made ones for aesthetic reasons...but not have them working.   

It does need some restoration, the interior isn't all inkeeping with the era, so I will endeavour to correct that. I love anything Gothic original or anything from the Victorian revival and I've had a long and enduring love and admiration of Augustus Pugin's work, and anyone who has seen the interior of the Palace of Westminster or Eastnor Castle will know why.    

I knew I wanted a Gothic project for this house will be a version of it. Not a like for like because I want to keep true to the era and architecture where I can, I don't want to spoil this house in anyway. ;o)  
This is one of the rooms, it will be Professor Umbridge's office! The Georgian look is not it has been removed already. ;o)
This side door leads to a void (see below), I could have some interest going on in the doorway seeing she likes to punish students a tad too severely!
Here it is stripped back. I am hoping to replace the Georgian cornicing with Sue Cook's Gothic cornicing and other plaster embellishments. I'm not sure it will be possible in all the rooms...but it's something I'd like to do. ;o)   The ceiling's wallpaper detailing will be removed in due course too! 
This is where the door leads has a mini roof too. 
I'm awaiting delivery of the missing floor with balustrade and half staircase, unfortunately it got left behind at the owners (unsure why it was removed). The patterned wallpapered room will be the Gryffindor's common room. I like the wallpaper, but I want to hang a tapestry of two so I will opt for something else.   ;o) The downstairs room will be Dumbledore's office.  
 It's a nice size room, I sound like an Estate Agent! lol ;o) 
 I hope to add a Gothic fireplace in here, again a Sue Cook one.
 The door on the left leads into a small hallway...
 The Arts and Crafts sun window (all real leaded light and real glass).
 The small hallway...
Inside...I plan on having trunks and maybe the odd owl! lol 
Wonderful lights on the right. The original owner had a love of white and blue's worst enemy, I still spy tiny bits, so I will go around and check again!
 This door leads into Dumbledore's office.
 Each of the windows has very detailed window cills. 
All the sides were removed upon moving to my home etc, so I've taken photo's of without and with. 
 One of the 3 upstairs rooms.
 A false archway, so I may put a bed in that bit (the headboard end!). 
 The other bedroom..I will see if I can put that light at the same height! lol
 Very interesting views! ;o)
  I'm doubtful I will change a thing in these rooms as they are as they should be. 
 I love the view looking through...
With a few pieces of furniture added. ;o)
 Again, no sides attached...yet!
The main gallery. It has paper for the brickwork and some is torn or has bluetak grease marks. Unsure at present what the solution will be. Either to make the best of it, or replace it with something better and more realistic.
 I will hang portraits of the deceased wizards and witch's on the walls! All Arts and Craft's doors, they all at one point had knobs etc., no idea why they have all been removed, including the exterior ones.
Windows looking into a bedroom...well I think it will be a bedroom! lol I will have a small bathroom I think in another room upstairs!

 The walkway below which is open ended. I will make steps and it will lead into the forecourt.
My Sid Cooke Gothic greenhouse. It will have a rough and aged forecourt here with a large centre fountain...all aged etc of course! lol 
I prefer it situated this way, however impossible to view the side facing the window, so this side (that  you see face on) will face the cabin window.    
The roof is an embossed tiled sheeting (unsure why the maker opted for this?). I'm not sure these will stay longterm. From a distance they look perfect and look right for the house. I may opt for read slate tiles or something else but actual tiles rather than this. It's real lead flashing on the roof too and so that needs to be taken into consideration if I opt for real tiles as I'll have to put that back.
 I love the interesting roof lines.
 I do have the missing railing piece, though some needs replacing as it's broken.

 I love the big bay windows and will be wonderful to dress!
 Real lead guttering.
Lots of detailing...I've been doing a lot of looking! lol 

 This is how it's displayed now....
The gallery is the first thing you see as you enter the cabin.
With the flash can see the colour difference! It is like the photo without the flash on. 
  One of the opening panels. 
A Sue Cook Gothic fireplace. It will actually go into Professor Umbirdge's office (I bought it for that). It needs a hearth and grate etc. 
Trying some of my pieces that I've collected over the years! I've only added a small portion of my collection so far, just to get a feel of space etc. 

My OOAK fairy study table is by Ericka VanHorn. The table and many of the contents were made by various talented artisans a long with Ericka's fabulous work too! ;o)
 Professor Umbridge's office.
The velvet chair is by Jain Squires. It is actually for my Nanny McPhee house, but maybe Umbridge can borrow it for a while till I get the one I want for her room. ;o)  
The vase of double tulips is by Catherine Davies.
 Trying one of the beds!

 This will be the Great Hall...which leads into the fairy study room and Dunbledore's office.
 Side archway leads into the fairy study room.

The truly fabulous trunk is  made by Tony Hughes of Miniature Treasures. ;o) 
  The floor needs a can't see it, I know it's there! lol 
One of my all time favourite pieces,Dumbledore's desk. part of a commission by Tony (I've not got all the wonderful pieces out  yet!). The chair (along with most of the other Tudor pieces you see) are made by Mike Mortimer. ;o) 
The potion's room...I have lots of stuff for all the rooms, this is just a little on show here.
The knoll sofa etc (the ties need tidying up!)I bought ages ago for another project, I think I'll have this in Gryffindor's common room despite being more opulent! 
The table that came with the's a shame I can't use it for its proper purpose, but it matches the cabin and our garden furniture perfectly!

  I hope you don’t mind my ramblings and madness! :o))

Michelle xxxx


  1. Es una casa impresionante,magnífica en todos sus aspectos,tanto arquitectónica como en los detalles decorativos!!! Estoy segura que harás un gran trabajo con ella,enhorabuena por la magnífica adquisición!!!!!

    1. I knew I wanted a Gothic style house and this one is perfect on so many levels! I'm busy choosing wallpapers now, only not managing to decide which one! lol Glad you like it. ;o))

  2. une superbe maison de collection à relooker , c'est un beau défi.

    1. Thank you Catherine! I do love it, and it will keep me busy for a while. ;o))

  3. Oh wow that house is fantastic from every angle. I can't help but smile at seeing the furniture, no matter what state a new house I love to play straight away and put furniture in to see what it looks like, I see your just the same. Love that red Gothic chair. I'm already intrigued by the fairy room, will await developments eagerly.

    1. Well it's furniture amongst a lot of dust! lol I gave the Common room floor a wipe over came up a better colour. ;o) The red Gothic chair is by Mike Mortimer, it's not OOAK and you can still buy them.

      The fairy study table I've had a number of years and I adore it. It has many artisan's work on it starting from the table itself. A very special OOAK piece. ;)

      I've ordered the paper for Dolores' room! ;o))

  4. I knew it would be one of us to buy this house Michelle. You were braver than me and I feel sure you will bring this house to life over time. What fun the planning and dreaming will be, and then all the shopping for the perfect pieces. I look forward to seeing you work your magic it is a gorgeous addition to your collection. One for all the family to enjoy.

    1. I don't think I was brave Janice, but I do think I was practical. It needs some restoration, but very little given its age. I just want the inside to reflect its era better.

      I was going to get a 12 roomed Gothic kit, which would have covered that entire table and it also weighed over 6 stone (not sure of the weight of this one!). Being a spinal injury and thus permanently in a wheelchair it would have bought many physical challenges when it came to making and decorating it etc., though not impossible. I saw this and saw all the major pluses for me and it made perfect sense to purchase it.

      The whole family come to look at it! Lol We aren't a family of great telly watchers as it is, but now we just stare at this instead! :OP Lol It will be fun to do though and I'm planning the rooms to be redecorated the most as I write, ;o)

  5. Im sure your going to have lots of fun with this michelle its an outstanding house as it is but once you have added your special touch im sure it will be even more amazing.

    1. Thank you Tony, it's been a lot of fun already and it holds its place well in the cabin! lol I'm busy planning how to restore it to its I hope it will be more amazing when its all done. ;o))

  6. Gorgeous house. I love this. Lucky you. Have fun furnishing it.

    1. Thank you Patricia!!! I do love it and do spend a lot of time...just looking and erm planning when I should be busy elsewhere! lol

  7. Wow what a stunning house and it will be perfect as Hogwarts, the wood panelling is just amazing.

    1. Thank you Diane! It is very different I do have to agree, I'd rather like to live in a real house just like it!

      I love all the panelling too, I may give it a light re wax as I think it will bring the colour up better and stronger. ;o)

  8. That is a really cool house. I love Gothic architecture (too many years watching Hammer House of Horrors) Even better that it opens on each side. Seriously, why don't all kit houses have more than one opening? I bet it will look stunning when you're finished with it =0)

    1. Another friend said the same thing about the Hammer House of Horrors! lol It could easily pass as Dracula's home! lol

      I have no idea why kit designers aren't more imaginative. I've seen 2 side opening houses, but never seen 4 before. The base is solid (no void underneath as I can find) so there are practical issues for lighting. I think if this house had been made for me I would have somehow hid all the electrics in the tiny roofed part off Dolores' office. Maybe the owner wasn't worried about real lights, I have no idea.

      I just adore this era, everything about it! This is the 3rd Gothic house I have in my collection and they are not that easily found! I'm doing another Gothic revival house which will be very opulent indeed on the inside, I have been collecting furniture for it. ;o)) I hope this one will be the best I can make it once its finished. ;o)

  9. Thanks for showing all those beautiful photos Michelle! The house is beyond stunning. I have seen a very similar brick version, I think it was for sale on Ebay many years ago, but there weren't so many interior photos. I am guessing it was made by the same artist. I am using that one as inspiration to design a half scale (similar) version, so it was perfect timing to see this from you! Thanks again. Have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you Shannon! ;o)) Wow that other house could be more like a Victorian Villa if it's brick, I'm assuming you have photo's of it still?

      I obviously can't confirm who made the one you've seen or if this maker ever sold abroad, but I am so pleased these photo's have helped you with your 1/24th version! ;o))

      I'm first resuming work on Mr Mulpepper's roof (almost done), then it's back to Mrs Puddifoot's tea shop! ;o))

  10. Wow! What a Find! That House is Awesome! The wood paneling and the stonework are just magnificent! And having it open on all sides is surely a unique design! Lucky you to find it! Your Hogwarts pieces already look completely at home in this building! I can't wait to see more!

    1. Hi Betsy, I was extremely fortunate to be in the right place and at the right time! ;o))

      The whole building has an awful lot appeal, I have no idea if other dolls house exist with the 4 side opening thing. ;o))

      I've been collecting pieces for my Hogwarts project for a few years now and even I'm amazed how well they fit in...size wise too! lol I have lots of other pieces etc, but I don't want to get them all out until I have finished with the decoration and restoration. ;o))

  11. What an amazing house! Goodness it looks huge to me!!!
    I see some other houses lined up over on your wall as well looks like your set for a week or two! lol
    cant wait to see the internals come together!
    you make such lovely miniatures

    1. Thank you Deni! Well I guess its not small, but the table that came with it measures 35 inches by 29 inches...not massive, I think its height makes it appear larger than it is. ;o)

      I have a few to even started on, but I want to spend a lot of time on those nude ones in the back row so I'm doing the easier and smaller ones first. ;o))

  12. Absolutely incredible! That's going to keep you busy for YEARS, haha!
    I got a Hogwarts of my own on my 11th birthday - unbeknownst to me, my parents had been making it for me in secret for months and it really was a labour of love! It needs a lot of work done on it now as the past fourteen years haven't treated it well, so I expect I'll do some blog posts on it at some point.

    1. Well it might keep me busy filling for that time! lol It's doesn't need heaps doing to it..but I need to get it restored and then get filling it. :o))

      That was a fabulous pressie to you, how wonderful of your parents! You'll have to get it back up to scratch and get showing it on your blog! ;o))

  13. What a wonderful find and how marvellous that you bought it! The dolls house was made by John Strowlger of 'Miniature Mania'. This design was partly inspired by beautiful dolls house made by Frances England of 'England's Magic' JS made many nice dolls houses and then some gothic brick houses with similar interior layout. I enjoyed looking at your photos. Iam a total fan and could go on:)

    1. Hello Arabella!

      Firstly, thank you so very, very much for confirming the maker of the house! You have made my week and'll never know how grateful I am to learn of this and an insight to him. I've googled John etc and found he had a shop on the outskirts of Rayleigh in Essex and me and family up until 2003 used to live in Westcliff on Sea, Essex. My parents used to visit his shop (I couldn't because it was upstairs) and my Mum said she used to see his workshop out the back with his houses that he made...what a small world we live in!!! On my Google travels his daughter Kellie B asked via Dolls House Emporium's Facebook page (Oct 2014) whether there was anyone who owned (and where she could find one) any of her late father's houses that he made and sold in Rayleigh.

      It was a very lucky find and purchase too, as it was most sought after! I love the house immensely and it is much loved.

      Thank you for your time and kindness. :o))

  14. Hi Michelle. Thanks heaps for that link. You're right, it's not as nice as the one I posted about nor yours, but interesting none the less. I still love seeing the different layouts. To answer your previous comment (I was meaning to reply but was tardy due to lots of things going on at the moment) , yes I saw your reply to my comment and thought I'd post the pics out of interest. Lots of people think they are made by Francis England (I think that's the name?) - I actually think her painting and aging is a bit finer and more realistic. Still, gorgeous houses. So much character. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    1. Hi Shannon, I thought you'd be interested in the link. I think the one you saw would be a favourite of mine out of the 3, mine is most suited to its new given theme.

      Yes, as you can see from Arabella's comment (see above) JS was inspired by Frances' (England) work and you can see where he was going with that with his style and that's probably why peeps think his work is hers. I have seen a number of her properties and they are totally amazing (I'd love to own one!!!!)...more finesse and detailing than John's. Sadly John died around 2001 and I have no idea how long he made the houses he did.

      Have a great one Shannon!

  15. Hope you are in good health and busy working on your Hogwarts. I am struggling not to be envious! What a gorgeous building. Looking forward to your next post.

    1. Hello Heather,

      I'm fine and thank you! I love this house and is probably the jewel in the crown to my entire dolls house collection.

      Blogger has changed so much since I last logged in that I struggled to find unpublished comments!


  16. Hello to you all

    Michelle, I'd like to to say the house you have is gorgeous
    John strowlger, was my father, passed away in 2006
    I worked along side him in Rayleigh, essex for quite some time, he moved up to another workshopvan then he moved with his partner to France
    Can you please let me know if you still own this house please, would love an update on your pictures
    He was a very talented man
    I visited lower barn farm last week, where he was first based with his dolls houses
    They all remember him well
    Hope to hear back from you


    1. Hello Rae,

      I rarely log into my blog account and I'm late to publish your comment, apologies!

      I still own this beloved house made by your late Father, I also own one other (not shown here on my blog). He was indeed an immensely talented man and I've not seen another like this house, ever. My parents used to visit your Fathers shop and work shop when we used to live in the area, my Mym used to see him working on the buildings.

      My craft cabin is being emptied st the moment and the houses being moved out for a while. Will post new photos ASAP.

      Come back soon!

  17. Michelle, I have never been so in love at first sight with a house and I have a large collection of unusual houses. Gothic is my favorite, I am building a 1/6 scale Gothic Manor House Castle as we speak. Where are you located, do you still have the house? I am so happy you shared all these photos! Not enough words to capture how I feel about your Gothic Victorian. Debora O'Dell

    1. Hello Debora,

      Thank you for your kind words. I still very own my beloved Gothic house, and I own one other Gothic made by the same maker, though that only opens on one side and is red brick. I am in the midst of decorating etc another Victorian Gothic. Gosh, 1/6th scale that's Barbie scale and mighty big? How fabulous! I live in Norfolk in the UK.