Measuring 6ft 10in (2.04m) high, the doll’s house was made for and furnished by Miss Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Wilkinson (d.1857) of Aston Hall, Birmingham, and came by descent until 2010 when it was sold by private treaty to the vendor, a family friend.
At the Furniture, Works of Art & Clocks sale at Woolley & Wallis (25/12% buyer’s premium) in Salisbury on June 29-30 it had a guide of £20,000-30,000 and made the top estimate.
Bessie was the daughter of William Wilkinson (1744-1808) and niece of John ‘Iron Mad’ Wilkinson (1728-1808) of Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale, fame.
Her sister Mary Anne married Matthew Robinson Boulton (1770-1842), the only son of the entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, but died in childbirth in 1829, leaving seven children and a new-born baby girl. It was this tragedy that precipitated the creation of the doll’s house as aunt ‘Bessie’ sought to help her nieces and nephews recover from a great sadness.
Vivien Greene (wife of author Graham Greene), in her 1973 book Family Doll’s Houses, wrote that the Gregson House was a “splendid example of a ‘cupboard house’”. She thought the Still Room was unique in her experience “and it is a delight to survey the ranges of built-in cupboards, curved round the room, some filled with china”.