09 October 2008
Ros Jack's collecting passion has taken her all over the country. ...
Collecting Lilliput Lane cottages has taken Ros Jack all over the country in her quest to unearth more information about each one, and has expanded into a hobby involving photography and scrapbooking.
However, it’s the models representing the rugged cottages of Cumbria where she lives with her husband Hamish that have the greatest appeal.
What do you collect – and what got you started?
I started when my elder daughter was looking for something for a wedding anniversary present about six years ago.
There’s only so many pots and pans you want so I thought I’d have an ornament. I’d always liked the cottages, but they were a bit expensive for our pocket, but of all the collectables you can get I liked the cottages.
My daughter bought me Gold Top which entitled me to free membership of the Lilliput Lane Collectors’ Club.
That was nearly six years ago and each year I receive a cottage as part of my membership. Birthdays and anniversaries followed and my collection has grown steadily.
My husband has even bought me a couple of pastille burners. When we have been on holiday or visited a specific place that happens to have a cottage I will also buy those.
They are beautiful, I must admit, but the Cumbrian cottages lend themselves to the models because they are very rugged. There are only so many thatched cottages you want. I now have 23 Cumbrian cottages and 48 cottages all together.
Lilliput Lane is based in Cumbria and this year they are doing a lot of Cumbrian cottages so it’s been an expensive year!
What is the most you have ever spent?
£50, and that is a recent purchase – for Hazelnut Hall, which is a Cumbrian one.
What is your favourite piece – and why?
Hazelnut Hall and one of the smaller Cumbrian cottages, Badger Bar, which both came out this year.
Then I have special cottages that my family have bought. My elder son bought me a little one called Make Mother’s Day, my younger daughter and her husband are working in the Middle East so they bought me Little Lost Dog, which shows a dog beside a signpost, with one sign pointing to London and the other to Penrith.
My younger son likes to phone me on his long journey to work, in London, and for my birthday he bought me It’s For You, the telephone box with the same dog, again a Cumbrian one.
If I had to pick one I would say Hazelnut Hall because it’s one my husband bought me, but there are a few that have a personal significance and so are very special to me as opposed to a favourite because the cottage looks nice.
If you had to sell your collection what would be the last piece you would sell – and why?
It would have to be the pieces my family bought for me.
What is your best buy – and why?
I have got a couple of the larger cottages, including Duart Castle, that have come from car boot sales, but without boxes or deeds.
I don’t buy them for their monetary value. I buy them because I like them and also because it gives us more of a concentrated purpose when we go out and about because we plan visits to all the various cottages.
I am scrapbooking at the same time, doing research for more information and taking photographs when I am out and about in the area. It gives an extra dimension to the trip.
We have done all the National Trust and stately homes and gardens, and this gives us another focus when we visit an area and start looking for where the cottages are located.
My five-year-old granddaughter likes spotting grandma’s cottages, so it is a family thing. I also research on the Internet to find out more, so it is not just a collection; it’s more like a hobby that has developed into photography and scrapbooking.
Have you kicked yourself for missing out on an item?
A few months ago, when I was at the Lilliput Lane shop, they had a cottage of Penrith Town Clock and I thought then, ‘Shall I or shan’t I’, but I’d set myself a budget and I knew what I was going to buy before I went and so didn’t buy it.
I wish I had now because when I went back recently they no longer had it. I am quite sad about that one. It’s a retired cottage.
What was the last item you bought?
Wray Castle Boathouse at a special Lilliput Lane event. The artist was there, personalising the cottages, and my daughter said, ‘You have got to have a pea green boat’, so I have a pea green boat and the piece is signed.
How far would you travel?
I have travelled 70 miles each way because there aren’t that many shops around here. I will be at the annual event in Shugborough because I am interested in the event cottages. They are not Cumbrian cottages, but I’m still going to buy them. Otherwise, I visit Lilliput Lane or buy on the Internet.
What do your friends and family think of your collection?
My family aren’t collectors but they appreciate that I get a lot of pleasure out of it and will take me places to see things because, unfortunately, I am partially disabled now, so I have to rely on other people.
So the family get involved in that way as well as buying me things. When the children were very small I started collecting thimbles because they could get them in the local market for 30p, so they felt they were buying a proper present and I have over 300 of those now because every time they go away they bring one back – they even get their friends’ parents to bring back thimbles for me. As for friends, they understand that is what I do.
If you won £500 tomorrow, what would you spend it on?
Lilliput Lane has just brought out a brand new one, Holiday on Ice, that costs £175. It is my 60th birthday next March and my husband has said he would like to buy a really nice cottage, so I have my eye on that one. I would also like to combine a little bit of travel with cottages – a tour into Scotland.
How do you display the collection?
My husband made shelving especially for the collection so we can sit and watch television and I can admire my cottages at the same time!
What do you plan to do with your collection in future?
We are hopefully retiring to Devon next summer and I will take the collection with me. I’ll have the opportunity then to tour round the South West to buy more.
Do you belong to any clubs?
The Lilliput Lane Collectors’ Club.
Any recommended reading/websites?
I usually put Lilliput Lane cottages into a computer search engine and it comes up with all sorts of things, and then I find something in my area. When I am researching cottages I go on the web to find a bit of history.
Do you have any tips for collecting or looking after Lilliput Lane cottages?
* There is not a box or piece of wrapping lost – they are all kept safely. They retain their value provided you keep them in good condition.
* Store them out of the reach of little hands – I have two grandchildren.
* Use paint brushes for cleaning.
* At first I was collecting general ones whereas now I am quite specific, so concentrate on an area, such as where you live.