The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
I began collecting Lilliput Lane cottages when I moved into my current house in 1989 and my parents bought me a cottage called Inglewood as a housewarming present. It started a hobby that has grown and grown. I now have over 100 cottages and am fast running out of space to house them all.
David J Tate MBE founded the company making Lilliput Lane cottages in 1982. He is a Yorkshireman and originally began making models of the buildings that he had loved as a child, but in detail such as had never been seen before.
To make a Lilliput Lane cottage the first thing that happens is that the sculptor makes a model of the building concerned. This is then covered with silicone to make a master mould, from which further moulds are then made. The cottages themselves are made from Amorphite a specially produced material, which enables the detail to be seen clearly. They are passed to teams of painters who have strict instructions as to the colours to be used for the painting process. If you take the tour of the Penrith studios you can see this happening!
Each of the cottages produced has a small stamp on it, known as a Backstamp, giving the name of the company and the year of the model.
Some of the cottages are based on actual properties such as Bridge House in Ambleside and others are based on a type of property prevalent in a particular area.
They also make ranges such as the Beatrix Potter range including properties which she owned and subsequently donated to the National Trust and properties which she featured in her books - The Tower Bank Arms being one of these. Recent ranges include the British Landmarks range, which has Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Micklegate Bar in York and many more.
They produce an annual cottage for the collectors club members as a free gift, one to buy each year, and a further one at Christmas. As these are only available for one year before retirement the value increases quite quickly over subsequent years.
There is an English range as well as Scottish, Welsh and Irish and there are also ranges from America, France and Holland.
Each cottage comes with deeds and a card explaining where the real cottage or type of cottage can be found and a bit of information about the real property. Quite often we have been out visiting somewhere and I have spotted a building, which I have represented in Lilliput Lane form.
The beautiful old wooden church at Greenstead in Essex and All Saints at Watermillock in the Lake District are two that I have spotted on the map and when we found them they were unmistakable as the models I had got at home. Luckily Dave is kind enough to drive off the beaten track to try and find these for me!
The cottages increase in value as they are only available for a limited time and are then retired. This of course makes them rarer and so the price escalates. The original cottage, which started my collection, was about £10 when bought as new and is now worth £70 so you see what I mean.
One of the rarest cottages (and no I don't have one) is The Cliburn School. Lilliput Lane made only 64 of these models and they were given to the pupils and staff of the school on the day of its closure. They were never available for general sale and are now valued at £2,500 each.
I was lucky enough to find some cottages in an antique shop recently. I bought two of them for £29 and £39 and when I got home and checked the value they were worth £90 and £95 respectively! That is my best find to date but I live in hope of finding a ‘Cliburn School’ at a car boot sale for £1! Mind you I’m not sure that my conscience would let me buy it without telling the seller about it!
I keep a complete list of all my cottages, when and where bought, by whom and why, for sentimental reasons but I also keep a note of the current value just in case I ever need the information for insurance purposes. Luckily on the two occasions that my house was burgled none of my cottages were touched.
I am a member of the collectors club and they send me a current price/value list each year so I keep my list up to date from that. I have visited the centre where the cottages are made in Penrith and I took a tour of the factory, which was fascinating.
There is also a website at www.lilliputlane.co.uk, which gives information about the cottages, the collectors club and the studios at Penrith. There are also pictures of a cottage in its various stages of development, if you’re interested.
The only real problem with collecting Lilliput Lane cottages is that they are a nightmare to dust!
I must now add an apology as a footnote - I wrote this opinion ages ago and asked Ciao to set up the category. When I had heard nothing I assumed that they did not intend to set up a new category for this product so I altered the opinion slightly and posted it under Penrith, which is where the studios are based. As this opinion has now arrived on Ciao I have two very similiar opinions in different categories - sorry folks!
Share this review on
Rate this review »
How helpful would this review be to a person making a buying decision? Rating guidelines
Lilliput lane seems expensive compared to other similar models. My wife has some of several different types, and the attention to detail is superb on most of them. Well written though.
mascarasnake 23.07.2001 15:09
Fascinating, thanks for the detail. I enjoyed reading this during my break at work, most refreshing.
niclemamy 23.07.2001 15:05
I used to paint David Winter cottages, I don't know if you've heard of them at all!! Very interesting job and very enjoyable. Lilliputlane was set up by an ex manager from DW and seems to be doing very well. I still have some cottages but I'm not a collecter. You seem to be though - bit expensive aren't they!! Nicola