A Miniature World At Leonardslee Dolls House

I’m going to “fess up”. I wasn’t expecting to like the Leonardslee dolls house exhibition. For a start I don’t and never have liked dolls. Not even as a child (I was a teddy bear kind of girl).

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

In fact, I only wandered into this exhibition by mistake. I was vaguely following a family as I left the gardens at the end of the day and I thought they (we) were all going into the café. But bear with me, because, this inadvertent visit was in fact … incredible!

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

Not any old dolls house 

It’s quite hard to describe this exhibition apart from saying that it’s an amazing miniature world. Officially, it’s described as depicting an “Edwardian estate and neighbouring villages at 1:12 scale, with landscapes and characters acting out day-to-day activities.

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

Exquisite in detail and accuracy, a six-foot-tall person is recreated as six inches in height.”. That really doesn’t do it justice and neither do my photos. The attention to detail is mind-blowing.

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

The collection was created by Helen Holland in 1998. It includes a greenhouse and potting shed, an emporium, a greengrocer, a butcher shop, a post office, laundry, a wheelwright, a carpenter and cabinet maker, a church, a pub, and a school.

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

Then there’s also the mansion house with an entrance lodge, farm buildings, granary, farm garden, topiary garden, kitchen garden, gardener’s cottage, walled garden, stable yard, keeper’s cottage, and dozens of tiny, detailed versions of the mansion rooms. The entire collection sadly fell into disrepair a few years ago, but with a massive amount of work, it’s now been brought back to its former glory.

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

OK, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but there is something utterly compelling about this extensive display of little people and their lives and I cannot recommend it enough.

Sussex Dolls House Exhibition

As a big fan of the Edwardian era, it feels like your own private backstage pass to Downton Abbey and I honestly could have lingered there all day, soaking up the detail. So, if you want something quirky and compelling, you now know where to find it – in the main courtyard at

Leondardslee Gardens.

If you like this post about the Leonardslee dolls house, you may also like:

Historic Houses: Uppark in West Sussex

Historic Sussex Homes: St Mary’s, Bramber

Stunning Sculpture at Leonardslee, West Sussex

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