Dear DCGB Members – You will have seen in Plangon and on the website that we are planning a trip to Italy in April next year. Samy Odin is organising this for us. He has come back with more information (see below). If you are interested, please email Carol Cameron on to let her know – by 5th November latest.

“This trip to Italy focuses on the history of doll making in Italy combining visits to 4 major cities (Turin, Bologna, Venice and Cremona) + the Borromeo islands on Lago Maggiore (with one night in the fantabulous Grand Hotel Borromeo in Stresa) + 5 doll and puppet museums + one fabulous private doll collection + one (not less fabulous) private puppet collection + a dozen hours of classes + visits to various public museums + shopping, sightseeing and free time, flea-market and as a grand finale, attending a doll show. It is based on a new “Travel and Learn” concept that Samy is sure will appeal to DCGB members.

Departure: ex Gare de Lyon, Paris on Friday April 5, 2019 at noon
Return: to Paris Gare de Lyon on Sunday April 14 at 10:30 pm

The cost is estimated between 200€ and 240€/ day all inclusive (transportation + hotel + meals), depending on the number of attendees (he is planning on between 15 and 20).

We have to commit to the hotels and transportation in November 2018 so we need people to make a tentative commitment early November.
Payment is in installments: first deposit before the end of the year, a second deposit in February and the balance in March 2019.
Samy would also be able to suggest accommodation in Paris before and after if needed and make arrangements for special visits if required.

The full information and the final price will be out before the end of this month. The plan is to give priority booking to DCGB members and other English speakers first and then if the trip is not filled, extend it to French speakers.”


A magnificent dolls’ house and toy collection rivalling the best on public display in Britain will be given to the people of Pembrokeshire thanks to a special lady, Val Ripley.

Val, aged 93, has generously bequeathed the private collection to Pembrokeshire County Council, which will create a new permanent gallery suite to house it at Scolton Manor, the county museum.

The collection was built up over many years by Val and her late sister Pam, who grew up in Surrey and Sussex together before moving to Newport in later years.

It was inspired by the discovery of a childhood treasure of Val’s – a dolls’ house called ‘The Gables’ which her parents gave her for Christmas 1932, when she was eight.

“I’d been hoping for a dolls’ house, and I’d been eyeing up a wonderful one in the Harrods catalogue, but it was rather big and I didn’t think I’d get it,” recalled Val.

“I couldn’t believe it on Christmas morning when I saw this huge present waiting for me to open!”

From then on, Val played with the house constantly and saved up her pocket money to furnish it with miniature items, with birthdays and Christmases bringing more tiny gifts from family members.

But in July 1939, Pam and Val’s father took a commission in the Royal Artillery and the family house was let. The dolls’ house was put into store ‘temporarily’. But eight weeks later came the onset of the Second World War and the house remained in store for the duration – and was then forgotten about.

It was only after their mother died in 1977 that Val and Pam found the dolls’ house in the attic of their parents’ home, perfectly preserved in its original storage crate.

Not only that – they also found their mother’s dolls and toys dating back more than a hundred years, and their own childhood treasures.

“Imagine unpacking those!” said Val. “It was a magical moment. And I’m afraid my sister and I were off collecting!”

Over the following years, Pam and Val built up a famous collection of dolls’ houses of every period from 1840. Each house is furnished only with items produced at that time, and offer an intriguing glimpse of family life at home.

“We deliberately collected houses from every era,” explained Val. “Individually they’re not so interesting, but together they present a complete social history from the early Victorian era onwards.”

The sisters also sourced miniature toy stables, shops, theatres, and many toys and games – including rare vintage mechanical toys.

In 2010, the sisters opened the collection to the public for the first time at ‘Ty Twt’ in Market Street, Newport.

“It’s quite funny seeing fathers coming in with their children, because you can tell they’re not particularly into dolls’ houses,” said Val. “But by the time they get to the WWI house, they are really interested and telling their children all about the things inside!”

The collection has featured twice on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and includes treasures such as a miniature dog which once belonged to Margot Fonteyn, and doll dresses given to Val from her childhood friend’s father, who happened to be Gone with the Wind star Leslie Howard.

It also features ‘St Edwards Junior School’, a charming teddy schoolroom created by the sisters when they were children, saving their pocket money to buy the tiny teddies at nine pence each.

Cllr Paul Harries of Newport, who was instrumental in bringing Val together with the Pembrokeshire Museum Service, said the collection was a ‘real treasure’.

“This is a wonderful gift for Pembrokeshire, and we are so grateful to Val and her late sister Pam,” said Paul, who is also Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“Together they created a collection of national importance, and we will be honoured to display it one day at Scolton Manor. It will prove a real legacy for them.”

 Cait Hilditch, Collections Officer, said they were incredibly appreciative of Val’s generosity, and that the collection was fascinating in many ways.

“There’s the social history – with its amazing attention to detail throughout – the development of play, the wartime changes, and then there’s Val herself and her personal stories,” said Catriona.

“It’s a fantastic record of the changing styles of the family home.”

The creation of a new gallery suite at Scolton Manor will be funded through a Welsh Government grant of £77,500.



Val Ripley

Pictured is Val Ripley, who built up the prestigious Ty Twt dolls’ house and toy collection with her sister Pam over many years. The sisters were frequent visitors to Newport as children – and were evacuated to the town for eight weeks at the outbreak of WWII during the period known as the ‘phoney war’.