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The role of a Northallerton craftsman in Queen Mary’s Doll’s House Pi News


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The Queen Mary Doll’s House was made by the people as a gift to the Queen who saw people through the First World War.

Northern Echo: Queen Mary's Dollhouse.  Image: Royal Collections TrustQueen Mary’s Doll’s House. Image: Royal Collections Trust

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The Edwardian mini-palace was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect best known for Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island off the Northumberland coast in the North East, and is filled with miniature pieces created by more than 1,500 artisans from across the country. , including Frank Finley Clarkson of 211, Market Place, Northallerton.

“I remember my grandmother’s living room was on the first floor above the store and you could look down on the town hall,” said her great-granddaughter Margaret Elcock, who still lives in the town. “Behind the shop was Clarksons Yard to Applegarth.”


Northern Echo: Frank Finley Clarkson's prototypes are still at Northallerton - they were a bit big for a doll's house, so he scaled them down.

Items Frank made for the doll’s house, including a jam or jam jar, a milk jug, a salt and pepper shaker, and a silver plate, are also preserved in the town. (above).

Northern Echo: Frank Finley Clarkson's prototypes are still in Northallerton - they were a bit big for a doll's house, with a 50p piece for scale.Mr Clarkson’s stuff with a 50p piece for the future

“They were too big and he ran at them again and made them a lot smaller,” says Margaret.

Everything in the house was a twelfth of its usual size. A committee headed by Princess Marie Louise, King George V’s cousin, was formed to oversee the royal household and make sure everything was perfect: electricity in every room, running water, flush toilets with paper towels, a working bicycle, 588 miniature books, including the complete works of Shakespeare, 700 specially commissioned watercolours, and the complete collection of the Crown Jewels from the throne room.

Northern Echo: Queen Mary's Dollhouse Library.  Image: Royal Collections TrustIn the library, above, and in the kitchen, below, is Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. Images courtesy of the Royal Collections Trust

Northern Echo: Kitchen in Queen Mary's Dollhouse.  Image: Royal Collections Trust

The house was to be a gift to the Queen, who admired all the miniatures to be exhibited at the 1924 Empire Exhibition. Therefore, all the content had to be prepared by the best artists, craftsmen and manufacturers to show the best of the British. It is unclear how Frank was involved – many manufacturers had Royal Warrants – but he must have been highly regarded.

Northern Echo: Made by Frank Finley Clarkson in 1950 with the Mayor of Northallerton chain.Made by Frank Finley Clarkson in 1950 with the Mayor of Northallerton chain

He was born in Northallerton in 1867, the son of a watchmaker. He practiced silversmithing in the days when a silver tea service was the best in every family that could afford it. He made memorial items for Northallerton Church and in 1903 won two gold stars for an iron box and a hammered powder box at the Albert Hall Exhibition in London.

Northern Echo: A miniature vacuum from Queen Mary's Doll's House.  Image: Royal Collections Trust

A miniature vacuum cleaner from a Queen Mary doll’s house. Image: Royal Collections Trust

His most lasting legacy is probably the chain he made for the chairman of the city district council in 1950. It is now worn by the Mayor of Northallerton.

He worked until he was 87 in 1955, and died five years later when Margaret was still a teenager. “We used to visit all the time,” he says. “I remember more than anyone that he had the most beautiful hands – the hands of a true craftsman.”

A Doll’s House took three years to build and was seen by 1.6 million people at the Empire Show. This year, it is center stage at Windsor Castle, with a series of events planned to mark its centenary – just last week Queen Camilla received 20 7mm highs by contemporary writers including Simon Armitage, Alan Bennett, Philippa Gregory and Julia Donaldson. presented the book. , to the library.

Windsor Castle is open from Thursday to Monday. Full details at If you go, find out if you see the Northallerton lad’s silver work.

Northern Echo: Silversmith Frank Finley Clarkson in his workshop

Silversmith Frank Finley Clarkson at his Northallerton workshop




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