Meet the Yorkshire woman hand-crafting 200,000 doll's house miniatures after breaking her back in terrible crash

There is a tiny store in rural Ryedale where dreams are crafted from potters' clay, with a sculptor's blade and a careful hand and an artistry that is unnerving.

This is Pauline Millard's world of dolls' house treasures, where rows of cabinets line the walls with some 200,000 miniatures all perfectly sized to scale.

The grandmother's hobby, once a curative relief as she learned to walk again after a terrible accident, is now proving a balm to buyers worldwide.

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Over recent months she has gone from hosting coach tours at the dolls' house museum to deliveries across North Yorkshire, and orders on a global scale.

Pauline Millard from Weaverthorpe Dolls Houses and Miniatures at Weaverthorpe near Malton. with the handmade model of Scripps Garage in the TV series Heartbeat the real one being at Goathland. Image: Gary Longbottom

As she this week pieced together the final jewels for a 1.5in high necklace bound for a buyer in Italy, she reflected on its journey ahead.

"I like to imagine it, on a jeweller's stand, in a doll-sized jewellery shop window," said Ms Millard.

"This is what I do, I send them off into another world. It has been a lifeline for so many people who are shielding."

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Some of the 2,800 different packages made by Pauline Millard at Weaverthorpe Dolls Houses and Miniatures at Weaverthorpe near Malton. Image: Gary Longbottom

Ms Millard, 59, broke her spine in a terrible car crash on the A64 a decade ago.

As she learned to walk again her husband Dennis Horsley built her a small shop at the side of their home, so she could practice her hobby.

"I had to do something, to keep me doing things, to keep my limbs working," she explained. "From then, I started to make things.

"I start at 11am every morning, and I'm often still doing it at midnight. When I'm doing it, I just don't realise how time flies, I become so engrossed."

Pauline Millard takes a closer look at a handmade punchbowl with clay food with liquid resin she has made. Image: Gary Longbottom.

Spectacular displays

At Weaverthorpe Dolls House Miniatures, there are rows of cabinets lining the walls. Dozens of dolls houses, in all shapes and sizes, including one in an old clock face.

There is a gardener, molded from clay, ferreting in a tiny hut amid a smattering of pea-sized turnips. In a pint-sized Post Office, shoppers queue for tiny boxes of cornflakes.

Each is made from modelling clay, with limbs twisted from pipe cleaners before being baked in an oven. Most are around six inches tall, and clothed in hand-sewn garments.

The interior of a General Store made by Pauline Millard at Weaverthorpe Dolls Houses and Miniatures. Image: Gary Longbottom

There are miniature railways, alongside a replica petrol station from the television series Heartbeat filmed at nearby Goathland, complete with pumps and chains.

The vegetables are one-twelfth to scale. She can only mould when the real thing is in front of her, said Ms Millard, whether it's a carrot or a cauliflower or an apple the size of a bead.

Most popular is the confectionery. Tiny tins of beans sit in the shop alongside boxes of Campbell's soup, packets of Weetabix, Oxo cubes and miniature porridge sachets.

There are batteries, boxes of washing powder, and a surprising demand for tiny silver bottles of 'brasso' brass cleaner. Everything is handmade.

Hobby

Ms Millard, recalling the time she raised the price of a boat to £150 as she didn't want to let it go, said she tries not to have favourites but she does sometimes get attached.

Pauline Millard with some of the one 1/12th scale character dolls she makes from modelling clay at Weaverthorpe Dolls House and Miniatures. Image: Gary Longbottom.

"Sometimes when they're gone I miss them," she laughed. "My husband always tells me it's too late. So I sold my boat, someone will get joy from it."

This is a hobby that is under-appreciated, she said, in terms of scale but also in its reach.

"A lot of people think dolls' house miniatures are for little girls," she said. "It's not. People start collecting in their 30s, and they keep them for years and years.

"A great many are for cakes. Some people make houses the same as their own homes, and then they redecorate it the way they wish they could afford to.

"Some people buy things to match what they had as a child.

"Everything you've got in the house, I've got in my shop in miniature. Every single thing you can imagine, I have it. And it's like a furniture shop, because I have it in different styles."

Painstaking process

It's a painstaking process to make miniatures, admits Ms Millard, insisting it's more about patience and perseverance than skill, to meet her own high expectations.

Over recent months, she added, they have brought a great many people a great joy, as she has delivered to surrounding towns and villages.

"People need something to do," she said. "They wait for my deliveries, and they tell me it's a lifesaver. It's creativity but I also think it's an escape. A lot of people are suffering."

One customer has 19 dolls' houses in her bedroom, another has filled an entire downstairs flat. Many people start with one, said Ms Millard, then it "seems to expand".

"To make something in miniature, that you really like, is a joy," she added. "I never had a doll's house when I was a child. I would have loved one I think."

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The interior of an artist's studio made by Pauline Millard at Weaverthorpe Dolls Houses and Miniatures. Picture: Gary Longbottom