My Favourite Spots in Nottinghamshire by Ben Hatch

Ben Hatch

This week we are sharing Ben Hatch’s favourite places in Nottinghamshire. If you would like to share your ‘favourites’ with us, email us at or use the comment section below. You may feature on our blog and our various social media platforms.

Author Ben Hatch’s latest book, Are We Nearly There Yet?, tells of a family’s 8,000-mile journey around Britain. While stopping in Nottinghamshire, he told us about one of his new-found favourite places here.

“My favourite place in Nottinghamshire, possibly the world, is the Vina Cooke Museum of Dolls and Bygone Childhood. Based in an old rectory this museum is a collection of more than 3,000 dolls and 5,000 other exhibits amassed by Vina and her husband Charles over more than 40 years. It’s the largest collection of dolls on display anywhere in Britain, maybe the world. Its first highlight is the work room, where, laid out on a lace-draped dining room table when my family visited were several large plastic dolls lying face down, their detached limbs arranged about them and an ominous pair of sharp scissors in attendance. It is the “operating table” of “the doll hospital.” Charles now fixes all dolls. Young and old. He remakes eyes, reattaches limbs, mends broken strings in backs.

The second highlight here is even more eerie. It is a room that features hundreds of dolls from various eras all turned to face you as you cross the threshold. It was in this room that, on my own visit, I realized that I was being referred to when Vina thought I was out of earshot as the  “the man”. As in the “The man wants to know about Shirley Temple’s letters”. “The man is asking about the Beatles dolls.” I advise everyone to go here and on leaving the place to speculate how a doll museum curator would be a good person to live in Royston Vasey.
‘-Silence dollies. We agreed that would never happen again.’
‘-I am sorry you have upset dollies. You will have to go.'”

Sadly, Vina Cooke passed away last year but this wonderful and quirky museum is still open and run by her husband, celebrating her passion for dolls and dedication to the museum.

Posted on 21 August 2012
Featured author: melissa.gueneau

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