Cynthia, the Alresford doll
Cynthia is one of the Alresford Dolls, and she was made by Alresford Crafts in 1980. Once completed in the Town Mill in Alresford she was shipped off to by sea-freight on a cheap passage to Australia, and presumably sold through one of various shop or exhibition outlets over there.
Thirty five years later, in a story reminiscent of the TV “Heir Hunters” programme, the latest owner of the doll was Wilma Dunne. Wilma, now retired, had spent her working life helping a plastic surgeon work with children born with cleft lips and palates in the Philippines. On her retirement to Perth in Western Australia, Wilma was presented with the OAM, the Australian Medal of Honour, for her services to the people of the Philippines. It was because of this career and knowledge that she visited the Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) in Peppermint Grove, a suburb of Perth, to talk to two Year 6 students there, Isobel and Lucy, about the challenges of working in a Third World country.
Isobel Lucy Dunne, now in her PLC kilt and uniform
Making the link!
Sitting in the PLC library she suddenly realised that the girls filing back and forth in their school uniforms were dressed in exactly the same way as one of her three china dolls – these dolls had been bought from the estate of a deceased lady of Maylands, in Perth, maybe 30 years before. On returning home to look at the doll more closely, Wilma realised it had been carefully re-dressed in the green and black tartan kilt, the similar tie, and the green stockings of the PLC uniform: presumably the uniform remembered by the original owner of the doll, 30 years before, and maybe worn by her, years before that!
Wilma offered the doll to the Ladies’ College, and it was gratefully accepted by the College Archivist and Historian, Shannon Lovelady, who set about the quest of trying to identify more of the doll’s history and origins. Shannon saw some Alresford dolls advertised for sale on the Australian Ebay website, so soon contacted this Alresford Memories site to enquire about her PLC dressed doll (now rechristened as Isobel Lucy Dunne, to show her pedigree).
The doll with Isobel and Lucy, in their current school uniforms
The marks on the back of her head soon proved that the doll was indeed an Alresford Crafts doll, made in 1980, and from the catalogues of the time in the Alresford Museum the original identity was established as that of Cynthia, also known as CD22.
Now back at School
When Cynthia arrived in Australia she was dressed as a classic English schoolgirl, in a black gymslip and red tie on top of the white blouse. It seems that only the black shoes, the white blouse and the straw hat have been retained, plus her distinctive plaited fair hair. Now Isobel Lucy Dunne is happily back living in her original school environment again, but we still don’t know how many years before 1980 the memories she stirred in the lady from Maylands were created.
The story is being written into the PLC archives, and Shannon has been kind enough to send us some photos, as seen here.
The doll with some PLC schoolgirls in their latest uniform hats!