Visit to Orton and its Dolls’ Houses
For a change, it wasn’t actually raining when members gathered together for morning coffee at the Orton Scar Café, and to await our guides for the day. The plan was to split the party into two groups, one to be shown round Orton by Wendy, a local historian and Blue Badge Guide, the other group to be taken by Jackie Huck to see her collection of dolls’ houses. After lunch the two groups were to swap around. As it happened, several members were only able to make the morning visit, so they made their way to the Old Mill with Jackie while the rest of us followed Wendy up to Orton Church to start our tour of the village.
Wendy is a very knowledgeable guide. She is currently researching the history of the church, something that is not well documented, and her observations about the exterior and the interior were fascinating. After the church we walked through the centre of the village where we learnt about the Market Hall, the Manor Court, the Old School (now the Chocolate Factory) and Petty Hall. We then crossed the road and the beck to a part of the village a number of us had never visited before to learn about, amongst other things, the old Rectories and the Methodist Chapel. It was then lunchtime, so we returned to the Scar Café where we had a good, but somewhat noisy lunch.
After the meal it was our turn to go and see the doll’s houses, but first we were introduced to Sandy, a most enormous Maine Coon cat. Jackie then told us a little about the history of the Mill before we went into the first (yes, the first) room full of dolls’ houses. To say we were amazed is rather an understatement. There were houses of all shapes, ages and sizes and the room was so full of goodies that tums and bums had to be well tucked in. There was too much to see to be able to describe it here, but suffice it to say the houses ranged from a Cornish Fisherman’s cottage, complete with twin-seat outside lavvy, to a complete Manor House. All were appropriately furnished, and goodies on show included amazing miniature items like a bookcase containing full text copies of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Jackie had made many of the furnishings herself, and we especially liked the interior of the haberdashery shop with its “to-scale” fabric rolls, ribbons, buttons and hats. It also helped that Jackie, a gifted writer, has invented the history of the families inhabiting many of the houses, putting them into context.
We then moved on to the second room(!) which was similarly chock-a-block, so much so that Jackie is in the process of freeing up a third room in the Mill. My memories of what we saw have become a bit of a jumble as there was so much to see in such a short time, but everyone agreed that the collection was extremely interesting.
All too soon it was time to thank our guides and to make our way back home, maybe some via the chocolate shop, others by the ‘plants for sale’. All in all it was a very successful day out.