Skip to content

Richard Carpenter’s dolls’ house is one of our star items; its delightfully miniature nature draws a great deal of attention as it slowly revolves, allowing you to see it from all angles.

Richard Carpenter was born in Stevenage in 1890 and in 1903 he began work at the Educational Supply Association (ESA) as an apprentice joiner, cabinetmaker and polisher. Trading began here in 1883 on Fishers Green Road and was the first factory in the town, offering an alternative to the otherwise largely agricultural work available. The ESA was known for providing low cost but good quality furniture and was the leading supplier for folding classroom partitions.

The Educational Supply Association (ESA)

The dolls’ house itself is based on a housing design by Mr. Leonard who worked in the drawing office at the ESA with Mr. Carpenter. His design for a school table and chair became a symbol of the post-war classroom. His innovative designs spread wider to homes and housing projects, but can be seen very clearly in the image of this modern and practical furniture design.

It was Mr. Carpenter’s daughter, Yvonne, who inspired the building of this delightful house; its execution was so perfect however that it never became a plaything. The dolls house took nine years to complete, including building and furnishings, by which time his daughter had grown to be thirteen years old.

The dolls’ house illustrates the design principles that inspired Mr Leonard throughout his career. You can see the simple shapes, clean lines and minimal surface decoration in both the house and its furnishings.