PostHeaderIcon The dolls in Grafton Cathedral

I was intrigued with the story of ‘the dolls’. I listened with interest to the architectural history of Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton, but when the two dolls were mentioned, I knew that was the centre of my concern. I knew that when I thought of the cathedral, I would think of the dolls.

The story goes that funds were being sought to build the edifice in 1883. Bella and May Greenaway were the small daughters of the clergyman of the diocese, and each possessed a small porcelain doll. Just a simple little white rigid dolly, with painted hair and lips, about ten or twelve centimetres high. One of the daughters, Bella I believe, insisted on donating her doll to the cause, and it was accepted and placed somewhere in the walls of the new cathedral.

When part of a wall was demolished in 1937, in order to facilitate the extension that was taking place, the doll was found in the cavity. It was removed, cleaned and placed in the new west wall where it can be seen today, albeit with some difficulty. If you stand outside and look hard and long enough, you can see the tiny white figure placed between two bricks. It’s there all right, high on the wall, almost too high to be noticed without due instruction. But it’s there.

The Greenaways remained in Grafton, some descendants still living in the old home. Grafton is like that, full of lovely old homes built around Federation or before. When a relative, for some reason or another was moving some heavy furniture, she discovered the other identical porcelain doll wedged behind a solid wardrobe. No doubt it had belonged to May.

This doll was also cleaned up, and given to the cathedral in 1984, over a hundred years since the other doll had been so generously donated. May’s doll is to be found inside, to the right of the imposing entrance, housed in a glass-fronted frame, for all to see. Oh that the doll could speak!