Doll Garden (Skinningrove)

Photo by Nick Wesson

Status: Removed

One of the more terrifying entries in our collection comes from the small coastal town of Skinningrove, because nothing says “Welcome to our humble home” like hundreds of doll heads on sticks, decaying slowly under the sea-salt air. This one has fascinated me for years.

Formerly tended by a couple living in the town (Hazel is the name mentioned in the awful and exploitative TV documentary Toughest Villages in Britain – clip shown below), the garden contained all manner of dolls on poles. These included some that had apparently washed up on the beach, leading one to believe that there are some strange currents in the Skinningrove area.

Excerpt from “Toughest Villages in Britain” (2004)

In the documentary, Hazel mentions that the couple would buy additions to the collection wherever they went, which isn’t quite as romantic (is that the word?) as them washing up on the beach, but certainly more reliable.

A few of our contributors visited the house and spoke to the owners over the years, telling us that Hazel and her husband were usually willing to show visitors around the garden and chat, in contrast to the unwelcoming image of the village shown on TV.

Sadly, the doll garden is no more. According to one source, the local housing association pushed for the removal of the doll garden and it was gradually removed. Still, it lives on in our humble corner of the internet.

If you know anything more about the garden, please let us know. It’s a fascinating story but definitely feels unfinished at the moment (the big question of “Why?” looms large).

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