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May 31, 2009

Lost In Bath

My first Roche doll

On a visit to England over 25 years ago I traveled
to Bath to see the sites including the Assembly 
Rooms which house a costume museum.

One of the things I love most about the Brits.
They never throw anything away. When they save
enough of something, they open a museum. 
Trains, antique plumbing fixtures, complete streets 
of old shops, farm life, carriages, cars, planes, jails 
and anything else one can think of and plenty 
one wouldn't. 

Closest to my heart, genuine old garments and accessories.
Many with historical associations and some represented
in portraits worn by the original owners. Then there are 
theatrical costumes. 

The Assembly Rooms, Bath

Off I went, map in hand through honey colored Bath.
Found the Pump Room and the Roman Baths.
Then off to find the Assembly Rooms. 
All the time thinking - Jane Austin. Its her town.

Walked a bit too far along Walcot St. parallel to the 
River Avon and became a little lost. On my left a tiny
shop window with doll house miniatures.
Wrong street maybe, but definitely up my alley.

Went in and was greeted by a friendly young man in 
the small front room. Near the window, a table of heart 
touchingly beautiful dolls. Porcelain heads, pretty hand 
painted faces, blond, brunette and ginger pigtails. 

Articulated arms and legs, wearing smocked Liberty of  
London print dresses and delicate hand knit cardigans.  
In the next room, a dark haired young woman sewing dolls 
clothes. (The job of my dreams.) Took a while to choose 
the right doll. Carried on my lap the entire flight back to 
Philadelphia. So went my introduction to Lynne and 
Michael Roche, Dollmakers  extraordinaire. Early days 
of their spectacular collaboration. 
Now, internationally recognized Masters of their craft.
See for yourself at

Lynne and Michael Roche (with permission)

The following year, I made a bee line back to Bath. So looking 
forward to another visit and another doll. But the shop door 
was locked! A note on the window told me they were in New 
York City at the toy fair. Aaahhhh!! Slipped a card under the 
door bearing greetings and disappointment (tears couched 
in humor).

Found some of their dolls in London at The General Trading Co. 
in Sloan St and in a Burlington Arcade Shop. Naturally, prices
had doubled. But that didn't stop me. My sister in law, Debbie
had asked for one also. 

Sent the Roches a copy of Goldie The Dollmaker, by M.B. Goffstein.
For a number of years, they sent copies of their handmade catalogue.
The book, A Celebration of Enchantment, by Barbara 
Spadaccini-Day, celebrates their 25th anniverary (2005) 
as superb Doll Makers.

My assistant, Fred E. Cat helping 
set up the shot.

1 comment:

  1. The doll is stunningly beautiful with a gorgeous face. We have a wonderful fabric shop in San Francisco, named Britex, that carries Liberty lawn fabric.