Memorializing Colonial Childhoods: From the Frontier to the Museum

  • Kate Darian-Smith
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series (PSHC)


In the early 1940s, Felicity Clemons, the wife of a Tasmanian doctor, embarked on the task of ‘improving’ a small dolls’ house her daughter had received as a gift. This endeavour spanned four decades, and revealed Clemons’ interest in colonial history. The daughter of Sir Geoffrey Syme, managing director of the Age newspaper, Clemons had grown up in Melbourne and had exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria.1 She directed her artistic skills to her Georgian dolls’ house, Pendle Hall, which gradually acquired 21 rooms over four storeys. Its elaborate interiors were arranged with finely wrought period furniture, and hundreds of tiny, handmade objects: foodstuffs, ornaments, books and other household items. By the 1970s, Clemons was operating a private museum in a restored colonial building in Westbury, widely known as Tasmania’s ‘most English’ town. On display were her collection of children’s toys and other memorabilia, with Pendle Hall as the centrepiece. A local tourist attraction for many years, and well known to doll’s house enthusiasts around the world, Pendle Hall was recently donated to Museum Victoria, and its rooms and their contents can now be viewed by the public online.2


Material Culture Child Migrant Indigenous Child Colonial History Reconciliation Commission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kate Darian-Smith 2016

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  • Kate Darian-Smith

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