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Briar Rose, Main House, from the Front

This is the second installment in the ‘dollhouse series’.

Every house has a story. Let me tell you the story of Briar Rose Cottage.

The Library Corner Where Constance Answers her Correspondence

The Tudor House, which I built from a kit I’d ‘bashed’, I call Briar Rose. This is entirely a product of my overactive imagination and not meant to depict any actual place, but instead, one that existed previously, only in my mind. I was inspired to bring it to life, or at least fruition, in miniature proportions. I worked hard to demonstrate ordinary wear and tear on the building and the general effects of weather and time. I wanted the cottage to appear really lived in, not perfect, like a ‘model house’, but comfortable like an old family home. Briar Rose is depicted in the early 1900’s, in a small village in England. It was truly magical to watch the house evolve before my eyes, becoming reality beneath my hands.

It is common practice in Britain to give houses romantic names, often inspired by garden imagery or birds; Dove Cottage, Primrose Cottage, Peregrine House, Ivy Manor… I have adopted this practice with several of my miniature dwellings. As this house was built in the old English Tudor style, it makes perfect sense to me to follow this tradition.

Welcome and let me show you around…

Briar Rose is old and rustic, lived in by several generations of one family, the Yarrows. It sits on a cobbled lane. that changes to a dirt road at the outer edges of Shrovenshire village, which is the beginning of the surrounding English countryside, not far from the sea.

Members of the Yarrow family have always been considered a bit odd or peculiar, down through the ages. They don’t seem to mind, in fact they seem to pride themselves on it. The current resident of Briar Rose, Constance Yarrow, carries on the time-honored family tradition, handed down by the women of her family, of spending a few to several hours a week in the stillroom, creating simples and some say, potions. Constance has lived here all her life and shares the house these days with her dogs Lad and Skipper .

The Stillroom at Briar Rose

Of course, nosy neighbors will pry and create rumors given half a chance. The Yarrows have always had an extensive garden, and they’ve always grown a variety of herbs. The usual culinary and fragrant herbs of course, but many other varieties are a bit mysterious to the uninitiated. For generations, the women of Constance’s family have been accused, if not out rightly so, of being witches, or dabbling in a bit of white magic to say the least. Yet, when a neighbor finds themselves with a perplexing ailment that doesn’t respond to traditional treatments, often as not, they will arrive at the door of Briar Rose with a brace of pheasant or other offering, in exchange for a bit of advise and “little something in the way of a cure.” Constance always graciously acquiesces, naturally.

Brace of Pheasant

Constance is also a fairly well known historical mystery author, although not under her own name of course. Most of her neighbors have not made the connection and she enjoys the local anonymity.

The house still has much of the same furniture that Constance grew up with and indeed that her grandmother grew up with. There were a lot of good cooks in the history of her family and Constance is no exception. The old ‘raven’, the cast iron stove set into the large kitchen fireplace at Briar Rose, has been there for over 100 years. It still works just fine as far as Constance is concerned, no need to invest in those new fangled gas rings she’s heard of. The kitchen still has the same serviceable slate floor it’s always had and the Delft tile behind the raven is the same her Grand father returned from a trip to Holland with.

The 'Raven', Old Black Range in the Kitchen at Briar Rose

The buttery off the kitchen, a room similar to the American pantry, has quite a few mysteries of it’s own. Many small cupboards and drawers hold spices and seasonings, some simple and some exotic. Ingredients like coffee beans, tea leaves and cocoa, sugars and flours, vanilla and ginger fill more drawers and jars and bottles. Herbs hang drying on exposed rafters and the sloped stone sink and hand pump still work like the day they were installed long ago. Constance is grateful the pump is indoors now and not in the garden as it was when she was a child.

Buttery, Sink Area

Constance does most of her writing in the library by the window using a “modern” typewriterand sets aside a few hours every day to do this.

Where Constance Works on her Manuscripts

Constance's Writing Table, note the full-size penny

The rest of her day is spent in the garden, cooking, reading, and walking her dogs, spending time in her stillroom, and sometimes spinning, knitting and sewing, depending on her mood and the weather. Needless to say, she’s not overly fond of housework.

The main bedroom is full of heirlooms like the rest of the house, including a slipper tub and foot bath belonging to her great-grandmother. Constance herself wove the coverlet on the bed.

The house receives a lot of natural light and the windows are open on any given ‘soft day’ as the locals say when the weather is mild. On a clear, of which there are not a lot, Constance can see clear to the moors from the garden or the upper story windows. A lot of strange things happen on the moors…

Sewing Table and Supplies

Briar Rose Master Bedroom

The house shows it’s age but also it’s endurance. It has stood for many generations and should last for many more. It’s been well-loved and lived in and is a very special place. It is the dwelling I would choose to live in, if I found myself suddenly shrunk to 5 inches tall!

Thanks for visiting. See you again soon in another small place, I hope.

Briar Rose, Main House from the Back