Jill’s Biggin Croft House
Highland Museum of Childhood
This dolls’ house, crafted in the style of a traditional Highland croft house, or ‘biggin’ as they were sometimes known, was made during the Second World War by May Armstrong for her daughter Gillian, known as Jill.
It shows incredible and creative reuse of available materials, being mostly constructed from an orange wooden crate, with straw thatch and plastered outer walls. The curtains are made from scraps of fabric, the kitchen drawers from matchboxes, and the fire grates from melted and moulded sardine tins.
May’s husband and Gillian’s father was a Captain in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He served in Madagascar, Myanmar (known at the time as Burma) and other undisclosed locations during the war. May raised Gillian and her brother Robin back at their family home in Ayr.
The Second World War caused a toy shortage as factories, materials, and labour were all needed for the war effort. Many toys had to be handmade and improvised!
Jill’s biggin was well loved and looked after for many years, even through various moves to Kent, London, and then Yorkshire where it finally came into the care of the object’s donor Lucy Watkins, Jill’s daughter.