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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

UK government steps in to stop rare Georgian house moving overseas

The 18th century dolls' house has had a temporary export bar placed upon it by arts minister Michael Ellis

The English "baby house" has an asking price of  £65,000 plus £13,000 VAT (Dh340,000 plus Dh68,000 VAT). Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The English "baby house" has an asking price of £65,000 plus £13,000 VAT (Dh340,000 plus Dh68,000 VAT). Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The UK government has intervened to stop a rare Georgian dolls’ house, which is over two hundred years old, from being moved overseas.

The 18th century “baby house”, as it was known at the time, has had a temporary export bar placed upon it by arts minister Michael Ellis while a buyer is sought to match its asking price of £65,000 plus £13,000 VAT (Dh340,000 plus Dh68,000 VAT).

Only one of 30 surviving examples of pre-1760 English baby houses, the house descended through the family of a renowned Liberal politician, William Edward Forster who introduced the Education Act of 1870 and was later Chief Secretary for Ireland.

“This striking piece is a captivating window into the history of childhood. I hope it can remain in the UK, where it can be studied and admired further” Mr Ellis said.

Originating in the Netherlands and Germany, dolls’ houses were traditionally given to the daughters of wealthy households to prepare them for managing a home until the early 19th century when they became a plaything and were simplified for increased production.

A UK arts council committee made the recommendation to withhold the house’s export licence, arguing it held significance for the study of the history and material culture of childhood.

“This captivating and little altered house in miniature takes us into the elegant eighteenth century home while also shedding unique light on the education of young middle-class girls at that time” said Peter Barber, a member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

Potential UK-based buyers have until May 1 to purchase this piece of English childhood history. Although the date may be extended until August 1, if a serious buyer makes an offer at the recommended price.