Visitors, young and old, will enjoy seeing some of the 500 or so items from our collection of dolls, teddy bears, dolls' houses and games dating from the 19th century onwards.
A feature of the 2013 exhibition was our display of dolls in national costumes including Japanese peg dolls (left) and this Lithuanian doll (right). It was donated by Miss Barbara Blathwayt, of Sunny Bank, East Terrace in Budleigh Salterton. She was serving in a transit camp for displaced people with the Relief team in Germany in 1945-46 when a Lithuanian woman gave her the doll. It was made from munition bags which were washed, dyed and embroidered: a testament to the patriotism of the residents who were keen to preserve their national identity. In addition, there was a dolls’ house in the exhibition, with a display of miniatures.
The 2014 exhibition was entitled ‘Hidden Treasures’ and included Fairlynch bear Muffy.
A display in 2015 was entitled ‘Past Times’, which included some of the toys in the Museum’s collection. One of the attractions was this Noah’s Ark with animals.
Another was Ursula, a mechanical walking doll probably made by the French doll maker Jules Steiner (1832-1902) which moved with the help of three wheels set into the base of a cone.
Another Fairlynch bear, Cecil, seen here wearing his WW1 medal, was part of ‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ exhibition.
This green Bowman locomotive dates from the 1930s. The exhibition conveyed the idea of ‘the Magic of Childhood’. A few of the items could be termed educational, but the majority reflected a sense of fun and enjoyment.
The 2016 display has as its theme ‘In the Nursery of the Recent and Distant Past’, with various toys that would have been children’s favourites in the past, and matching period pictures newly hung in the refurbished cabinet. For wealthy families in Victorian and Edwardian times a nursery was a suite of rooms at the top of a house, including the night nursery, where the children slept, and a day nursery, where they ate and played, or a combination of the two. Fictional portrayals of nurseries abound, for example in the writings of Kipling and E. Nesbit; perhaps the most famous nursery is that in the Mary Poppins books of P.L. Travers, or the nursery in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.
The Dolls’ House was donated by Mrs Eileen Rose Coates of Killin Lodge, Budleigh Salterton. She was a relative of Canon Alfred James Carver, a noted educationalist who was Master of Dulwich College from 1858 to 1883. The Dolls’ House is said to have been made by his coachman as a replica of the Master’s House.
Among items on display are peg dolls, some dating from 1812 to 1830; a later doll named Doreen was made in 1970 by Miss D.West for a WI competition at Yettington, when she was awarded 1st prize.
Peter, the toy bear seen here, was one of the so-called rare ‘Blissful’ bears made in the USA from 1907 by the short-lived Bruin Manufacturing Company. Such bears carry the company’s label stitched to the bottom of the foot; their characteristics include a humped back, a triangle shaped muzzle which comes directly out from the forehead, black wooden boot button eyes and embroidered claws on the paws.
Toys in the display include wooden blocks used at the schools run by Miss Joan Bannister at various locations in Budleigh Salterton from 1931 to 1991. There is also a jigsaw depicting Queen Victoria’s dolls; it was issued by The London Museum to accompany its 1969 exhibition entitled ‘Two Hundred Years of Jigsaw Puzzles’.