Can you solve the mystery behind this amazing dolls house of a Sheffield landmark?

A remarkable dolls house modelled on one of Sheffield’s oldest buildings has been unearthed – and the hunt is now on for its builder.

By Robert Cumber
Tuesday, 09 July, 2019, 09:48

The astonishingly detailed miniature recreation of Bishops’ House in Meersbrook Park features everything from timber beams to the leaded glazing of the original, despite standing just a few feet tall.

It was made in 1990 by a man called Cliff Grove but has only just come to light after its new owner contacted those running the house to find out more about its back story.

She and the Friends of Bishops’ House are now trying to track down Cliff to learn more about why and how he created the model of the 16th century Grade II*-listed building, which research recently revealed never actually housed any bishops despite its name.

Kerrylee Stovell bought the dolls house a couple of years ago for around £400, using her winnings from a raffle, after falling in love with the model when she spotted it on eBay.

The 39-year-old mum-of-three, from Ripley, Derbyshire, had no idea it was based on an actual property until it arrived with a newspaper clipping and photos of the real Bishops’ House.

Kerrylee Stovell with her youngest child Ostarra Travers-Stovell, aged 22 months

She began researching the building’s history online but was unable to trace the model’s maker, which is why she turned to the friends group for help.

“I am fascinated by the building's history, especially the witches’ markings to ward off evil spirits. I am a goth myself and a pagan so things like this really interest me,” said Kerrylee.

“I also have a lot of books on witchcraft, so I am currently looking into what the symbols mean.

“It's just so interesting to find that I have something so expertly crafted, with so much attention to detail, based on somewhere not too far away from me.

The dolls house modelled on Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park

“I would love to know why Cliff made it, whether he has any connection personally to the house and why out of all the buildings in the UK, he chose this one – though given just seeing how stunning it is, I can't fault him.

“If anyone could provide details it would be amazing, and would be another piece of the puzzle for us all.”

Kerrylee is a keen dolls house collector but says this is ‘by far’ the most beautiful she owns - and in case you were wondering it is far too precious to let her children, aged between 22 months and 16 years, loose upon.

She has decorated the interior in spooky fashion, with crystal balls, ouija boards and vampire hunting kits among the items dotted around the rooms.

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The dolls house modelled on Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park

She has yet to visit the real Bishops’ House but has been invited on a tour by members of the friends group and plans to take them up on their offer so she can learn more about its history and see if she feels any ‘spiritual connection’ to the building.

She and the friends group are even discussing the possibility of putting the dolls house on temporary exhibition at the building on which it was modelled.

The appeal for information about Cliff has already turned up a couple of leads, but he is yet to be found.

One person pointed out there is a model yacht builder called Cliff Grove living in Northumberland, but that Cliff told the friends group the dolls house was not his handiwork.

An Alan Burke, meanwhile, said he used to sell dolls houses similar to this one at a shop on Sharrow Vale Road during the 1990s, which he said were made by a disabled man who lived in the Richmond area, used to play guitar in a band during the 60s and whose name he was ‘pretty sure’ was Cliff.

The friends group said this sounded like a good match but there was a plaque on the model with a phone number which appears to be for Great Yarmouth, which they have tried calling without success.

The dolls house modelled on Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park

Jenni Sayer, secretary of the friends group, said: “We’re always discovering new things about the building’s history but to learn that someone used it as inspiration for a dolls house, and an incredibly detailed and beautiful one at that, is really touching.

“We’d love to solve the mystery of who Cliff is, so if anyone thinks they can help we’d urge them to get in touch.”

You can contact the Friends of Bishops’ House via their Facebook page or by emailing enquiries@bishopshouse.org.uk.

Inside the dolls house
The dolls house modelled on Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park
Inside the dolls house
A plaque on the dolls house, saying it was made by a Cliff Grove in December 1990
The real Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park