Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He wrote to tell her that although the house was taking a long time it was worth preserving

The Denton Welch House - 1783

Denton Welch, Dolls' House, 1783.

Denton Welch, Dolls' House, 1783. (click image for larger version)

This house is named after Denton Welch, a famous artist and writer born in Shanghai in 1915. Welch came to England in 1933 to study art. Unfortunately he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1935 leaving him partially disabled. It was during his convalescence that he discovered his talent for writing. (He wrote Maiden Voyage, I Left my Grandfather's House and A Voice Through a Cloud, as well as several other novels in his short life. He also wrote a diary which was published in 1952 as The Denton Welch Journals). Easily bored and searching for a pastime he found an old dolls' house in a cellar at his friend Mildred Bosanquet's house. The dolls' house was in very bad condition but he decided to restore it. As he worked he began to realise that this was a lovely old house. He found out that it had been made in 1783, by spotting a date in the kitchen fireplace under a layer of paint.

Despite being neglected, the house had retained many of its original features. These included the mantelpieces in each room and the perfectly moulded cornices and door frames. Underneath the many layers of paint on the house Welch found the small red bricks which were originally painted on the house.

Welch corresponded with friends and fans about the restoration of the house. One of them was Peggy Kirkaldy from Colchester who closely followed the progress that he made. He wrote to tell her that although the house was taking a long time it was worth preserving. Despite having been almost a ruin the structure itself was sound and although the fine decorative detail had been lost or changed, Welch lavished particular attention on them. He also told her that the house had been in the same Yorkshire family, the Littledales, since it had been made and up until it came into his possession.

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