A garden centre might seem the last place to find Victorian dining chairs and antique desks, but one Cumbrian venue has a museum full of them – with the difference that a set of antique balloon back dining chairs will fit comfortably into the pocket.
The garden centre is in the grounds of Grade II listed Houghton Hall, an early 19th century mansion which, unlike its famous Norfolk namesake, is not open to the public. However, the miniscule antique cabinets and other furniture of the World in Miniature Museum are every bit as impressive as those owned by the Cholmondeley family.
Created by skilled miniaturists and displayed in authentic room sets, these hand-crafted pieces are far too exquisite for a child’s dolls-house. Each is a 1/12 replica of an authentic antique or period piece, designed with adult collectors, stately homes and museums in mind. Furniture, kitchen utensils, carpets and even paintings are perfectly captured in one-twelfth size, every detail intact. So an antique secretaire bookcase, eight feet in height becomes an eight inch miniature, its marquetry detailing, dovetail joints, handles and hinges perfectly captured with no loss of detail.
The Arts & Crafts furniture in the Mackintosh dining room is complemented by plates and wallpaper of the same period. A drop-leaf antique dining table in the music room offers space for a metronome and palm-top saxophone. Things like the chinoiserie detailing on a lacquered antique cabinet can be admired to the full with the aid of a thoughtfully provided magnifying glass.
For full-sized antique dining tables and Victorian mahogany pedestal desks , go to a Preston antiques dealer, where craftsmanship is always on display.
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