July 28, 2015

Beatrix Potter Birthday Celebration!

A Dollhouse and A Little Mouse!
Nearby the dollhouse is our old fashioned table top Christmas tree like my Grandmum always had! The tree is surrounded by an old fashioned fence; it looks like a park in the distance from the house.
In front of the dollhouse are little trees and another fence.
A festive Christmas wreath is hanging from the wooden latch that shuts the two doors. Like Beatrix Potter's doll's house at Hill Top this dollhouse has two large doors in front that open up to see the delights inside.

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Two little mice nibbling crumbs beside the English teapot, similar to one at Old Sturbridge Village.

Hunca Munca at the door of the doll's house.
 Along with the dust in the dustpan is swept up Corgi hair.
Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated the adorable book "The Tale of Two Bad Mice", published in 1904.

Beatrix Potter's Birthday was July 28th.
She was born in 1866.
What joy and inspiration she has brought into our lives through her stories and illustrations!

Beatrix Potter was inspired to create the book "The Tale of Two Bad Mice" by her pet mice Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb, the doll's house that Norman Warne was making for his niece and the doll's house pieces and miniature food that he sent for her to draw.
Some of the furniture and small foods illustrated in the story are now in the doll's house at Hill Top.

Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went into the doll's house, and after becoming frustrated at finding the miniature foods to be inedible, started wrecking things and then decided some of the things in the doll's house would go quite well in their own mouse house. In the end, because they had caused havoc in the doll's house, the mice slipped a "crooked six-pence" into the dolls' Christmas stocking. Also, Hunca Munca came back to the doll's house every morning and cleaned and swept for the dolls.

This enchanting dollhouse may look familiar to our dear readers.

We first read about it on author and artist Susan Branch's blog.

Susan had found the dollhouse on her trip through Autumnal New England at an antique shop, thought it charming and shared photographs of the dollhouse on her blog.

I loved the dollhouse the minute I saw it!
So we made an Autumnal visit to the antique shop, ourselves.
There we found the dollhouse tucked in a corner, setting on the floor.

Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse for the dolls at Corgyncombe, looks out from the door of her shoppe "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks & Fashions" at 863 Park Avenue.
Tillie has a country shoppe, too.

As we were loading the dollhouse into the vehicle, out into a better light where we could see it better, I tried the little door to see if it would open; it did and it has a little latch to hold it shut!

That is when I said "Oh, look it has has an address number above the door, 863 Park Avenue", which of course, we would have to look into later.

We asked about the provenance and the kind people at Rustology Antiques said that the dollhouse was found at an old estate in Connecticut. The estate was the family's summer home, the rest of the year they lived in Manhattan, New York.

We had a feeling that whoever had the dollhouse had also lived at 863 Park Avenue.
863 Park Avenue, built in 1908, was known as one of the "earliest luxury apartment buildings" on Park Avenue.

In hoping to find more information about the dollhouse, we found the estate sale that had first sold the dollhouse, then we did some research of the genealogy of the family who had the estate. We discovered the Parsons family had lived at 863 Park Avenue near the time when it was first built, with their first child, a little girl named Alice.

It was also interesting to discover that amongst the other families who lived in the apartments at 863 Park Avenue, was William Taylor, the man who had the real apartment house built.

At the Parsons family's beautiful stone summer house at their Connecticut estate they entertained many prominent people. The Parsons' Connecticut estate was featured in House & Garden Magazine.

We were even fortunate enough to find a photograph of the little girl with her mother.

Little Alice Parsons in ribbons and lace, with her Mother, who looks like a fairy godmother as she holds a little slipper.

Perhaps Alice had Beatrix Potter's book "The Tale of Two Bad Mice", as it had been written several years before.

The clear sparkly lights of the Christmas tree are reminiscent of starlight, candlelight, and snowflakes.
Tucked in by the teapot on the shelf one can see the little mice.
Two of the dollhouse windows have curtains with lacey like snowflakes.

Old music box music playing is so nice whilst looking at the Christmas tree and the dollhouse.

In this fairytale like scene, the Mother's gown and the little slipper take on a radiant luster as little Alice holds a book and looks intently at the little satin slipper.
Perhaps her Mother was telling her the story of Cinderella!
The photograph was taken on Alice's birthday.

Tillie Tinkham, holding forget-me-nots from the banks of Corgi Creek, stands by her Park Avenue door.

At Christmastime I took some photographs of some of the old things and Beatrix Potter figurines on my cupboard. You can see the reflection of the sparkly Christmas tree lights in the glass and china. On the old apothecary jar filled with bay leaf, it looks like a twinkly waterfall coming down the jar between Rebeccah and Drake Puddle-Duck.

Our old fashioned table top tree at Christmas with twinkle lights.

Some of the writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant and from our previous postings elsewhere on the internet.

"According to Season", written by Frances Theodora Parsons, is about flowers throughout the seasons. Frances Theodora Parsons has been a favorite at our Corgyncombe Library for years!

We were thrilled to discover that little Alice Parsons' Aunt was Frances Theodora Parsons who studied and wrote about botany. Her first book "How to Know the Wildflowers" was met with resounding acclaim from Theodore Roosevelt and Rudyard Kipling. Rudyard Kipling and his wife lived in Vermont about the same time as Frances Theodora Parsons wrote her book "How to Know the Wildflowers". Kipling told her that the book would be most useful in discovering the wildflowers around and about his Vermont home. Kipling also lived in England.

Amongst the old books on the table are several by our cousin Louisa May Alcott.

Tillie herself has a millinery shoppe and tea room at 863 Park Avenue. Tillie is helping the little dog decide on a hat. Trying on hats, what fun!

Hitty pours herself another cup of tea at "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks and Fashions" with Millinery and Tea Room at 863 Park Avenue. Tillie balances on her rose tuffet and sips her tea.

Tillie Tinkham's Sewing Circle Emblem!
Whilst one of the Tweet Sweet Birdies helps hold the pinafore Tillie makes tiny stitches to hem the pinafore. Tillie is daintily perched  atop the rose tuffet to reach her work.

Inside Tillie's in town Shoppe at 863 Park Avenue, "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks & Fashions" with Millinery and Tea Room.

The blue and silver scenes on the walls are like diamond shaped windows looking out to fashionable folk walking about on cobbled streets. The rows of close buildings with their steep roofs and chimneys are reminiscent of the charming old English villages Lacock and Bibury in the Cotswolds.

One of Tillie Tinkham's favorite views in Corgyncombe Country.

We are admirers of Beatrix Potter and feel a kinship with her. My daughter and I enjoyed teas, elevenishes and delightful conversations with Tasha Tudor. What fun it would have been to have had Beatrix Potter with us also... what we all together could have talked about... bunnies, gardens, ducks, old houses, old barns, and other aspects of country life and landscapes!

How we love England as it is part of our heritage!
Many of my early ancestors came from England!

The Turret at Castle Corgyncombe.

The Tailor of Gloucester

"The Tailor of Gloucester", written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, is a story of mice who help the tailor at night to finish his work.
Whilst the cat was away, the curious Tailor, upon hearing tip, tap, tip, tap, sets free the mice that the cat had captured under tea-cups.
In the photograph above, there is a charkha spindle of my handspun silk. In the small bowl is cochineal for dyeing the silk a pleasant shade of cherry. Do you hear a tip, tap, tip, tap, tip?

Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit with postbag.

At Finch Post, 863 Park Avenue Branch, top floor, the Tweet Sweets are holding a
Valentine Banner of Love!

Even as a baby my daughter Sarah would study and analyze detail. Dolls and their houses have been always amongst her favorite things. When she saw this old dollhouse she got so excited and started chattering up a storm. I have always loved dolls, dollhouses, and playhouses, too.

Miss Elsie Pricklish the Hedgehog makes an apartment above Tillie's shoppe at 863 Park Avenue her home during the winter. In the summer she lives in a mossy hollow log down by Corgi Creek.

Debbie Dibble Dabble (one of many Dibble Dabble sisters) is quacking and bouncing on the bed, as the mattress goes up and down. Boing, boing, quack, quack, boing.

Miss Elsie Pricklish is to soon set about making clapbread, a traditional English flat bread made from oat flour.

With her cap and apron she looks like a Lady of Cranford!

Elsie has a surprise guest for tea...
Draw the latch, sit by the fire and spin, take a cup, and drink it up, then call a Spinstress in...

A tussie mussie was made using larkspur, lavender, thyme, winter savory, rosemary, wild marjoram, rose geranium leaves, and baby's breath all gathered from the Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs.

The little mouse knitting figurine is based upon Beatrix Potter's illustration of the "Old woman who lived in a shoe" in "Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes". It is one of our favorite Beatrix Potter illustrations!

"The Tale of Peter Rabbit" book on the table is a limited edition reproduction of Beatrix Potter's first privately printed Peter Rabbit book and has the original illustrations with Beatrix's own handwriting. The dust jacket is a reproduction of calico printed by Beatrix's grandfather's calico printworks. It is such a sweet book! We just love that print on the dust jacket!

In Jemima Puddle-Duck, Jemima is sent by the fox Mr. Tod, to look for the herbs for stuffing..

In Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of The Pie and The Patty-Pan", Ribby, with a pitcher of milk and a plate of butter, is returning from the farm on a path crossing the pasture where the cows are grazing.

A photograph I took several years ago of some of my Beatrix Potter figurines Tabitha Twitchit and Miss Moppet, Flopsy Bunny, and Peter's Mum Mrs. Rabbit.

Beyond the tea table, through the window there is Mr. Darcy walking in his top hat and coat!

The diamond shaped "windows" are looking out on the old cobbled streets of England edged by old buildings and there are people of old England going about their business, out for a walk, perhaps some from a Charles Dickens novel and some from a Jane Austen novel.
The scenes remind us of the English village of Lacock and the Arlington Row weaver cottages of Bibury in the Cotwolds.
Lacock, England was used for villages in the movies Cranford and Pride and Prejudice (1995).

Why, is that Elizabeth Bennet or perhaps even Jane Austen herself?
This Regency lady is charmingly similar to Cassandra's portrait of her sister Jane Austen, below.

Above, "The Illustrated Letters of Jane Austen", edited by Penelope Hughes-Hallett, is a wonderful book to read Jane's letters and of the time and places she lived in.
The small bouquet of feverfew, lavender, baby's breath, and forget-me-nots was picked from Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs. The combination of herbs is very fragrant all together.

Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse for the dolls at Corgyncombe, descends from the Tinkham mice of England. One of her Brown mouse family ancestors came over on the Mayflower and his daughter married into the Tinkham mouse family.

Tillie holding forget-me-nots.

A Preview of the up and coming 2015
Annual Corgyncombe Forget-Me-Not Fair!

You will see more of the 2015 Corgyncombe Forget-Me-Not Fair as a Special Surprise as we get closer to Tasha Tudor's 100th Birthday Celebration!!!

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copyright © 2015 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson