Friday, 21 August 2015

The End of an Era - Part 1

Well, friends, The Tenement is finally finished.   Yes, all done and dusted.   All repainted and I'm very pleased with the result.   The end has been a long time coming.
It all started as a day out with my sister way back in 2009 when we took the time to "do" the Royal Mile in Edinburgh as tourists and visited attractions we hadn't been to since our school days and others we hadn't been to at all, despite the fact that they're on our doorstep.
Briefly, by way of history, Gladstone's Land is a 17th century building.   The building itself is referred to as a "land" and the ground it sits on is the "tenement" (but for my purposes and for anyone familiar with buildings of this type, we know them as tenements).
It was purchased in 1617 by Thomas Gledstane (Burgess and merchant) who subsequently enlarged it forward by 23 feet and this work was completed by 1620.    It was occupied by himself, his wife Bessie and other tenants who included a Merchant (John Riddoch), a Minister and a Knight (Sir James Creichton of Fiendraucht, Kt.).   
You can find out more here Gladstone's Land.
My Tenement started life as a series of boxes from Ted Sills at Dolls House Concept.   The design of this meant that I could separate each one as I worked on them.
The first room to be dealt with was The Cloth Merchant or "Luckenbooth".  All the additional walls (with the exception of the panelled rooms) are created from foamboard and covered in polyfilla mixed with pva.   The ceiling light fixture and cruisie lamps were custom made for me by Olde Charm Miniatures and the spinning wheel was a purchase from Ashwood Designs


I then moved on to The Kitchen.   The lamp on the shelf, cradle and rocking lambing chair were from Ashwood Designs, the spoon rack is by Tony Knott and the bowls of herbs, porridge and bucket of apples were from Oaktree Dolls House Miniatures.   The flooring is real stone.

The little patens (overshoes for ladies) were made by me from a pattern in a dolls house magazine using balsa and leather.


Moving on up, the next room to get my attention was The Little Chamber.
The longcase clock and marquetry cabinet were made up from kits with marquetry panels (taken from the internet and reduced) then varnished over.

The William and Mary chair to the left is from Masters Miniatures and the chairs to the right were a commission from Ashwood Designs (who have since added this style to their website).
As with a lot of items in The Tenement I had to create my own as there was nothing out there that fitted the bill.   Two of those items were the foot-warmer and light fitting.   The foot-warmer was created from wood scraps and old earrings and the light fitting was made from wooden stirrers, solder and two bulbs.

The original Darien Press* was located in a building further up the Royal Mile and now resides in the Little Chamber.   You can find out more about the ill-fated Darien Company here The Darien Scheme.
* "Press" is an old Scots word for cupboard.

As far as I know, there isn't a ghost in the real property but for fun I decided to give my Tenement one and my sister Valerie wrote the poem:
Once I used to stay in this fine Tenement
Worked hard for my silver for food and for rent
Times were hard and oft I was low
I worked you see, for the Darien Co.
But I look around now at how things once were
The press, the tapestry and fine oak carved chair
I remember too clearly at how I was feeling
When downstairs the wifie would bang on the ceiling
"Keep the noise doon, it's time ye were off
Ah've four hungry weans and yer spoilin' the broth"
Upstairs the judge lived with his lady wife
And he was the one who ended my life.
I robbed and I stole from the Darien Co
The company folded with nothing to show
In court the Judge told me, "Sir, you're a wreck,
You deserve to be flogged and then hung by the neck"
And so my life ended and I'm back to lament,
My life and my death in this fine Tenement. *

Moving on up, we come to the Painted Chamber.

The Court cupboard below was created from a cardboard lid, decorative mouldings and models.  After assembly it was given three coats of oak stain varnish.   The chair was my first attempt at this type of thing.

The ceiling was painted by my sister Valerie and inserted as a separate piece.   LED lights were fixed to the top of the bed to highlight it.

Close up details of the wall decoration (by me) and painted ceiling.

Coming soon................Part 2.







  1. This is absolutely amazing! To think it started out so humbly. I love the fact it was a family project!

  2. Fantastic work Irene. It has pulled together beautifully and seamlessly. There has obviously been so much thought and work gone into it to make it perfect. Looking forward to part 2!

  3. Hi Irene! It is amazing to see all the work you put into this project over the years! I only joined in part way through, so some of it is unfamiliar to me. You have such an eye for detail and such a willingness to stick to your theme and time-frame and to do the research to make sure the pieces are accurate to the time! The results are Museum Worthy! It is really like looking into one of those historical dioramas! Bravo for project that is such a fantastic success!

  4. C'est incroyable Irene, on a l'impression de visiter une vraie maison. Un coup de cœur particulier pour la chambre, son plafond et ses murs décorés.

  5. Your recreation is astonishing and the details are just wonderful. Magic lady with a paintbrush too. Having stood in the real life building I know just how amazing this is. Well done you. It needs to be shown 'in public'.... maybe in The Tenement.... lend it them for Christmas? Marilyn

  6. Hello Irene
    This was a marvellous project. Again, your attention to detail is amazing, and the story behind it all just adds to the realism of it. Looking forward to Part 2!
    All the best

  7. Hi Irene! I LOVE this project and the details are so true to life that I feel that I am viewing history in the making. I love the lighting which really gives it the atmosphere of that era and the ghost and the poem by your sister, was a FABULOUS ADDITION because it encapsulated important information about the Darien co. unfamiliar to the non- Scot! :D Your pursuit of accuracy and your placement and invention of certain hard to find items, shows your tenaciousness in getting it RIGHT!
    Well Done Irene! I am looking forward to part 2 and I think that you should seriously consider Marilyn's suggestion re: Your Tenement making a guest appearance in the Real One!


  8. Hi Irene, o am so grateful that you are doing a review of your completed work. Such a pleasure to follow you through the rooms and note all the wonderful details you have achieved.
    Look forward to part 2.
    Regards janine
    ( just back from summer holidays and enjoying catching up on blog world)

  9. Such a beautiful house your attention to detail is amazing almost a shame its finished but I don't suppose it will ever be totally finished there will always be those little things you find along the way that are just right -)

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  11. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. It's been such fun to work on this and time consuming too as I searched for just the right pieces. As said, I WILL miss working on it.

    Marilyn and Elizabeth - I did consider taking in one of the rooms to the RL building (to take in the whole thing would be a logistical nightmare) but as we're so caught up in the whole Health and Safety thing my electrics would have to be passed, certified and given a sticker to say they were safe and I'm afraid NO ONE is touching my electrics so......they'll just have to read the blog - lol!



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