The West Dean
Dolls House is believed to have been purchased by Edward James'
father, William James, and is dated 1669. It is believed to be the
earliest doll's house in the UK Made in Nuremburg it consists of
eight, extensively furnished rooms including; a bedroom, a complete
linen room, a dining room, a kitchen, two store rooms, stables and
poultry yard set around a central staircase. The kitchen features a
slate with painted representations of fish, vegetables, a pig's
head, etc. Members of staff who were unable to read were then able
to indicate what was needed by placing a mark in the accompanying
space. The Dolls House is set within a painted pine cupboard with
glazed doors, which seems to indicate it is the home of a merchant
rather than a nobleman. Not a lot of people know that
The House on the Hill, a story in the first ever
collection of short stories The Mistletoe Bride & Other
Haunting Tales by British writer Kate Mosse was inspired by
the antique Dolls House at West Dean.
"Although best known for my novels set in the southwest of
France, for my first-ever collection of short stories, I've also
taken inspiration from the landscape of Sussex as well as
Carcassonne and Brittany," said Kate. "Several of the ghostly tales
are set in and around my home town of Chichester - at
Kingley Vale, the Fishbourne Marshes and on Harting Hill and
one inspired by the wonderful Dolls House at West Dean."