Skip to main content  

Photo of Annie Horatia Jones, 1882

Annie Horatia Jones, 1882

​A Victorian childhood in focus: The dolls' house dolls of Annie Horatia Jones

Anne-Marie Purcell, former archivist in the Collections team at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), describes the unique collection of ten dolls’ house dolls and related documents which once belonged to Annie Horatia Jones, the daughter of Sir Horace Jones, architect and surveyor to the City of London from 1864.

In 2008, LMA purchased ten dolls’ house dolls and related documents (CLA/084) which once belonged to Annie Horatia Jones, the daughter of Sir Horace Jones, architect and surveyor to the City of London from 1864. Sir Horace Jones was the architect of a number of the City of London's key buildings such as Tower Bridge, Smithfield Meat Market and the old Guildhall Library. The collection uniquely places this influential Londoner, enabling us to see him in the context of his personal and family life. The dolls and related letters and photographs provide a rich resource for children studying Victorian family life. The collection can also be linked to Sir Horace Jones as an important historical figure and provide a way into existing LMA collections connected to his work as an architect.

Annie Horatia Jones was born on 29 August 1876 at 30 Devonshire Place, Portland Place, Marylebone. After her mother’s death in 1888, Annie Horatia was bought up by her aunt and uncle, Tamazine (known affectionately as ‘Aunt Tammy’) and Sydney Billings. In 1886, Annie Horatia was given ten dolls’ house dolls dressed by her aunt. Each doll was said to represent members of Sir Horace Jones' family and household. The dolls' original labels in Tamazine Billings’ hand writing have been sewn onto their clothing to identify the family member they are intended to represent.

Horace Jones doll

Horace Jones doll

The different heights of the dolls demonstrate Victorian attitudes towards personal status within the family. For example, the importance of the Victorian father as head of the household is displayed by the doll representing Sir Horace Jones which is a full two inches taller than the other dolls in the group. The clothing on the dolls is also useful for looking at costume and dress during the late 19th century.

There are a number of additional items which accompany the dolls including a photograph album depicting family members represented by the dolls. One of the photographs shows Annie Horatia dressed in an outfit for the City of London Mansion House Juvenile Dress Ball. There is also correspondence between Annie Horatia and aunts, housekeeper and friends concerning holidays and interests 1883-1890, a scrapbook of coloured pictures, and a pencil drawing of Tamazine Billings as a girl in about 1831.

Annie Horatia Jones died at Weydown House, Haslemere in Surrey on 27 March 1969. The dolls were part of larger collection found in her cabinet dolls' house. They were sold at auction and purchased by Magdalena Byfield who later published a book containing an article on the dolls (Magdalena Byfield, Dolls’ House Dolls 1850-1900 Living Dolls Limited, 1977, CLA/084/01/012). Byfield calls the dolls a ‘rare species’ because of the documentation which accompanied them. She also felt very strongly that the dolls should not be separated from the accompanying items. The photographs and letters relate directly to the family members and without the archival evidence, the dolls lose their contextual value and unique provenance.

Lady Jones doll

Lady Jones doll

​Annie Horatia Jones bequeathed a marble bust of her late father by Charles Bell Birch (1823-1893) to Guildhall Art Gallery on her death which is currently on display. LMA also holds the archives of the City of London Architect and Surveyor and over 150 plans by Sir Horace Jones including his vision for one of London’s most famous buildings, Tower Bridge (COL/SVD/PL/03). There is also an album of 100 photographs of children at the Mansion House Juvenile Fancy Dress Ball 1899 taken by Lafayette Limited (ACCN/2001/226). More information about Sir Horace Jones’ life and career can be found in 'Sir Horace Jones 1819-1887' by Jennifer Freeman, an article from The Victorian Society Annual 1981 (COL/PLD/AR/01/001).

Special packaging is being made for the dolls.  Once this has been done, the dolls and related documents will be available for consultation.

​Further information

Collections information

The LMA online catalogue can be searched for more documents relating to the collections discussed above, in particular

  • The collection of Annie Horatia Jones - CLA/084.
  • City of London Surveys Department Plans, including Tower Bridge - COL/SVD/PL.

You can find out lots more about the kinds of records held at LMA on our collections pages.

16 May 2012
Last Modified:
08 August 2019