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Between Two Worlds?

As a child I loved to shock others with the tale that I had been abandoned at birth by gypsies and raised en famille with kindly mice in the crypt of an old church.

Alas! The truth is altogether more unremarkable!

For I was born and raised in the ancient City of York – a Yorky who lives by the ethos that a book, a decent cup of tea and a bar of chocolate can ALWAYS make the world a better place. 

A dreamer from birth with a taste for history and the irresistible urge to create – by day you can usually find me along with my battered tool box inside my atelier creating away with the radio blaring out and surrounded by shelves of weird creatures, baskets of fabric, tubs of paints, the odd pot of glue, stacks of paper and piles of exotic woods .

However, and as the sun falls on another day and with the messy apron discarded – I will go in search of the dead.

For if I’m NOT musing upon the discovery of a mysterious bundle of long-forgotten ephemera, poring over the details of a tatty burial record or recording an exciting discovery of an elusive ancestor in an old notebook – I will be researching the poignant stories of long forgotten folk for my company The Polite Tourist which offers true crime walks through Victorian history in York, Scarboro’ and beyond.

I have been asked on more than one occasion how I can move between two very different worlds – one which indulges my passion for creating all things miniature and the other in which I can be found wandering through cemeteries in a quest to wake the dead.

For me, it’s not a question of ‘why’ but rather ‘why not?’

#TeeBylo #YorkHistoryLass #GraveSleuth

More From Tee Bylo...

Ashes to Ashes!

‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.’

Genesis 3:19

Today is the first day of Lent known as Ash Wednesday and on this chilly and damp March afternoon, the doors to St M’s Parish Church have opened as the Rev. Suze supported by Verger Philly offer a warm welcome to some familiar faces who have chosen to wear some ‘Sorry Ashes’ on their mouse noses…

And some of the Merryworth visitors have also chosen to add a message of hope which will hang on the branches of our Lent Tree.

In Lent we are asked to ‘transform’ not only ourselves but also the world we live in and today we have also revealed the champion cause we are supporting with our pledge to say “NO” to single-use plastic!

And although we began our campaign to raise awareness about the perils of plastic with our ‘rubbish’ Christmas tree – our message continues!

And as the Rev. Suze and Verger Philly enjoy a well-earned cup of tea in the vestry after a busy afternoon – Mary has arrived a little too late for our special ‘Ashings Service’ after forgetting the time…

Everything IS Blooming Lovely!

“The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when is ceases to act, it ceases to be.”

Pope St Gregory the Great

As the hours tick by on St Valentine’s Day and with a visit from Missy and Millie and THOSE two felines – it’s a blooming lovely afternoon for Norma as she lovingly tends to those flowers…

‘Tis STILL Veganuary!

‘Gentle Reader,

The whole house has been in uproar this week!

It all began the morning after Burn’s Night when having discovered a missive from my Lord Byron – the maid servant Florence, (a foolish girl if ever there was!) took it upon herself to notify Cook of the contents.

Now, even though I was attending to some financial correspondence in my room at the time – the hysterical shrieking, wailing and bellowing from the kitchen below was simply too much and I had to leave my desk to investigate.

Upon my arrival downstairs, I observed Florence cowering in the furthest corner of the kitchen sobbing hysterically as Cook paced back and forth waving both letter AND cap frantically in the air while screaming ‘Carrots! Carrots! We need more carrots!’ at the terrified young kitchen hand.

Although I had not the slightest idea of what was going on – I quickly deduced that this scene of domestic discord had something to do with Cook’s letter and the supply and demand of the humble carrot.

As Cook rushed over to me clutching the letter – I immediately recognized the scrawl of my Lord Byron:

‘I must inform you that for a long time I have been restricted to an entire vegetable diet neither fish nor flesh coming within my regimen, so I expect a powerful stock of potatoes, greens & biscuit’

To say that I was utterly baffled at the conclusion of this letter was something of an understatement – particularly as the author was still ensconced with his bride and her family some two hundred and seventy miles away AND dining quite contentedly upon the fish plucked from the wild north eastern sea by recent reports!

Added to which was the letter was in fact dated ‘June 25 1811’ and addressed to the author’s late mother Mrs. Catherine Gordon Byron – two facts of some importance and both quite unnoticed by Florence AND Cook!

With all summoned to the kitchen table, I sought to calm those tears and fractured nerves over cups of tea and generous servings of Cook’s apple cake and my gentle inquiries to the reason for the earlier fuss were followed with a chuckle from footman Arthur Gray.

‘Why? ‘Tis still Veganuary Mrs. S.’ says he.

Sincerely Yours.

Mrs. S.’

‘January 31 1815’

NOT Another Cup o’ Kindness?

Gentle Reader,

With Cook furiously clanging pots and pans and bellowing at her young kitchen hand for his ineptitude with the fire bellows and the correct slicing of her carrots – I’ve retreated to a quiet corner of Number 13 to scribble this missive to you.

For as today is Burns Night and in a nod to my Lord Byron’s Scottish ancestry even though he is far from Piccadilly – Cook is busy with preparations for supper including a delicious smoked fish soup and haggis served with mashed potato and swede OR her ‘speciality neeps and tatties’ as she insists on calling them in an attempt at a painful imitation of a Scottish accent.

As Cook has never ventured further than Bethnal Green throughout the whole course of her life and her claim to Scottish Royal blood tenuous at best – I do wonder at her ridiculous manner at times.

However, as there will be some Tipsy Laird for dessert  – I will hold my tongue save for a silent prayer that there will be no unfortunate error with that salt pot – again!

Before I must take (or suffer!) another cup o’ kindness yet – is it too early in the day for a ‘wee dram’ of my Lord’s finest Scotch whiskey? 

Asking for a friend… 

Sincerely Yours.

Mrs. S.’

Let Them Eat Cake!

‘Gentle Reader,

Today, on this twenty second day of January in 1815 in the Year of Our Lord – MY Lord Byron is now seven and twenty!

In a hasty missive addressed to Cook, the whisper from Henry Opie, a gleefully indiscreet footman from Halanby is that His Lordship’s ‘treaclemoon’ is now most ‘certainly OVER’ and that Her Ladyship has left Yorkshire and returned to her parents at Seaham Hall in County Durham.

Rumour has it that my Lady is in desperate need of a reassuring panacea from her doting parents!

However, I have been reliably informed from Cook that despite the MANY protestations from my Lord to his bride – he too is safely ensconced at the Milbanke family seat.

And as Cook appeared surprisingly hesitant to reveal the closing paragraph from the Halanby missive and she has been seen clutching a distinctive pocket book about her person – what COULD she be about?

Although Cook is not without her foibles and her passion for the gaming tables an open secret – she does make an exceedingly delicious plum cake…

And on that note, I shall enjoy a slice or two in honour of my Lord’s birthday.

Sincerely Yours.

Mrs. S.

‘January 22 1815’

Taking My Leave of Number 13?

Walked early to look at my old house in Piccadilly – saw into the room where I have sat with him, and felt as if I had lived there with a friend who was long since dead to me.

No sense of past agony – all mournfully soft. My thoughts floated peacefully into other channels as soon as I had left the spot…

These poignant reflections were noted in Annabella’s journal on September 17 in 1820, a mere four years after she had left hearth, home and Byron behind on this very day in 1816 and walked out of the front door of 13 Piccadilly Terrace for the last time.

I fell into a sound sleep on the last night, as I believe is often surprisingly  the case in such cases of deep sorrow. Next morning I woke exhausted. I went downstairs – the carriage was at the door.

I passed his room. There was a large mat on which his Newfoundland dog used to lie. For a moment I was tempted to throw myself on it, and wait at all hazards, but it was only a moment – and I passed on. That was our parting.

On the eve of her departure Annabella had confided in her former governess Mrs Clermont that “if ever I should be fool enough to be persuaded to return I shall never leave his house alive”.

However, some 198 years later in January of 2014, the doors of 13 Piccadilly Terrace reopened – albeit in 12th scale for a feature in the Dolls’ House Magazine for GMC Publications.

’13 Piccadilly Terrace in the Year 1815′ February 2014 (Issue 189)

‘The house, named ’13 Piccadilly Terrace’ after Lord Byron’s London address, has been styled to 1815. Byron lived here with his wife Annabella Milbanke, who he had married in January that year, while that December saw the birth of his only legitimate daughter, Ada Lovelace.

The dolls’ house is complete with a basement kitchen and attic rooms that reflect the architecture, interior design, furniture and lifestyle of the Regency gent, inspired by Byron and his circle.’

’13 Piccadilly Terrace in the Year 1815′ February 2014 (Issue 189)

‘Comments made in letters to and from Byron have given Tee insights into aspects of life at Piccadilly Terrace. These snippets have guided her when deciding what goes where, or at least in conveying the same atmosphere in miniature.

Being an avid blogger, Tee has documented her progress allowing her passion for Byron to reach other fans of the poet as well as fellow miniaturists.

Christiane Berridge’

’13 Piccadilly Terrace in the Year 1815′ February 2014 (Issue 189)

However, despite this complimentary words – Number 13 remains a work in progress for with the beds unmade, the ancestral portraits to hang in addition to locating the elaborate dining service as the scrumptious dishes of Regency cuisine languish in an old biscuit tin!

Sources Used:

The Life and Letters of Anne Isabella Lady Noel Byron Ethel Colburn Mayne (London: Constable & Co Ltd 1929)

A Stitch in Time?

‘Gentle Reader,

Earlier this morrow, I was awakened to the sounds of frantic shrieking coming from the direction of Lady Milbanke’s bedchamber.

Only moments later, Her Ladyship’s plump and VERY red-faced chambermaid burst into MY bedchamber and along with her loud babbled excuses for having disturbed me – I was duly informed that my skills with needle and thread were needed IMMEDIATELY!

Apparently, the hem of Miss Annabella’s muslin wedding gown due to be worn later that morning had been inexplicably torn and I was thus summoned downstairs to make a hasty repair and I might add, without the benefit of my usual cup of morning tea and dry biscuit!

It would appear that the whisper I had heard upon my arrival at Seaham Hall two days earlier about the improper sobriety of Lady Mil’s seamstress is NOT without some merit.

I have some concern about the success of this betrothal…

Can I trust you to be discreet?

Sincerely Yours,
Mrs. S

‘January 2 1815’

Dreary? How Indiscreet!

‘Gentle Reader,

In one of his typically indiscreet moments – His Lordship let slip to his fellow poet Thomas Moore that he thought Seaham to be rather ‘dreary’.

I disagree. Seaham is a delightful place if you are partial to a chilly eastern wind and plain speaking besides.

But as a guest of His Lordship’s future in-laws – I must hold my tongue.

However, before I enjoy a glass of Sir Ralph’s finest champagne in honour of the New Year – kindly accept my warmest felicitations.

Although I would much prefer a snifter of His Lordship’s brandy…

Sincerely Yours,
Mrs. S’

‘January 1 1815’

Famous in MY Time?

‘What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? It’s the gift of anticipation.’ ~ Mrs. Wilson of Gosford Park.

Mrs. Eleanor Spencer – the formidable housekeeper of Number 13 and a purveyor of clean laundry, beeswax candles, fine manners and herbal remedies.

Partial to Syllabub, Plato and the odd glass or three of His Lordship’s finest claret.

The eyes and ears of the Piccadilly household? Absolutely!

A Stroll Along Piccadilly? Oh! The Agony!

We mean to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon’s house there, she being in France…

Lord Byron

Last Spring, I too ‘metropolized’ to London for the day and on a quiet and chilly afternoon – I went for a stroll along Piccadilly to take a lingering look at the abode which was the scene of his short and difficult union with the unfortunate, former Annabella Milbanke AND the inspiration for the creation of the Ghost of Piccadilly.

The fact that Byron apparently descended into a brandy induced breakdown after the arrival of the two unwanted house guests for an extended visit probably did little to help restore the stormy waters of marital harmony.

The first house guest was Byron’s ‘Dearest Guss’ – the Hon. Augusta Leigh and the other who arrived a little later was a Bailiff who presumably received a far less affectionate term of endearment!

Although the idea of 13 Piccadilly Terrace has long since captured my imagination; it is believed that the house has been rebuilt over the intervening years and is now a part of 139 Piccadilly which can easily be spotted after crossing over Old Park Lane and before you arrive at Hyde Park Corner.

Walked early to look at my old house in Piccadilly – saw into the room where I have sat with him, and felt as I had lived there with a friend who was long since dead to me…

No sense of past agony – all mournfully soft. My thoughts floated peacefully into other channels as soon as I had left the spot…

Lady Byron

Mournfully soft?

I love the juxtaposition of these words used by Annabella as she too had stood outside this building in September 1820 and mused about her relationship with her impossibly enigmatic and brilliant spouse.

No sense of past agony?

Oh! How I wish these walls could talk!

Sources Used:

The Life and Letters of Anne Isabella Lady Noel Byron Ethel Colburn Mayne (London: Constable & Co Ltd 1929)

Take ME to Church?

Here are just some of the questions I have been asked over the years about St M’s Church, THOSE parishioners and of the stories woven from the Town of Merryworth.

Are the Models Used for Merryworth ‘Real’ Models?

Yes, they are ‘real’ models!

All have been created in 12th scale primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, natural foliage and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination.

Can I Visit Merryworth?

As the models used for Merryworth have been on private and public display in the past; there are occasions when they can viewed in person and message left on our Guest Book will keep you informed about studio open-days and forthcoming exhibitions.

What’s the Story Behind the Creation of St M’s Church?

From my earliest memories, I have loved exploring our local churches and churches and having worked in many of these wonderful buildings in and around the historic town of Malton in North Yorkshire in the past – the opportunity to recreate this world in 12th scale has been impossible to resist!

My vision has been to create an old church which captures a sense of our history and yet is ever changing, a place for reflection AND with a door that is ALWAYS open!

It could also said to be ‘in the genes’ as many of my paternal and maternal ancestors were skilled craftsman, architects and stonemasons who designed, restored and built many churches throughout the United Kingdom and in my hometown of York including the gothic marvel that York Minster.

Does St M’s Follow the Teachings of a Particular Church?

Although St M’s Parish is inspired by the Church of England ethos and the festivals and holy days are celebrated in accordance with the ecclesiastical calendar – this miniature ministry remains a unique one.

How Can I Follow the Stories from Merryworth?

As well as following the ministry, musings and mishaps from St M’s through the Parish Records, you can also catch those 12th scale parishioners scurrying around on our social media platforms – just look for the icons below!

Remember to look out for #LittleBigChapel or #Merryworth and #LittleBigCat too!

How Can I Learn More About YOUR Work Tee?

My portfolio on all things in 12th scale including the Parish Archives from St M’s can be discovered here on That’s SO Tee Bylo!

However, you can also visit Death Becometh Her if you want to explore the darker side of my world as I go in search of the dead!

Tell Me the Inspiration for those Merryworth Mice?

Since the beginning of my work at St M’s in 2010; I resisted the idea of using any form of character ‘doll’ as my vision had always been one in which I could ‘set the scene’ with a hint of the human presence by which to encourage the visitor to weave the narrative and their sense of understanding about the unfolding tale before them.

However, as my designs continued to evolve, I fell in love with the idea of creating a gang of unique characters who could inhabit the world of St M’s and in 2017 – THOSE church mice appeared.

And Your Plans for Merryworth?

Although I have taken the decision to close the doors of my beloved St M’s Church and to give those mice a well-earned rest for now – a new church AND the promise of another adventure awaits!

Why not join me?

Stirring Up More Trouble!

‘Witch and ghost make merry on this last dear of October’s days ~ Unknown’

As the sun disappears on this All Hallows Eve – the folk from the All Hallows Hamlet are excitedly polishing shoes and dusting their finest hats as they dress to impress to celebrate the Festival of Samhain BUT not everyone wants to enjoy this special evening!

Sadly, there is no fabulous frock to wear or a sumptuous banquet to enjoy for Claire Eno this All Hallows Eve as this reclusive and unfriendly crone is busy pottering about and cooking up some rather unusual elixr from inside the Harum Scarum Emporium which is carefully shielded by the prickliest thorn bushes and whispering trees in this bleakest part of the hamlet.

There are no visitors here and Claire’s only friend is the ancient book that has been in her family for as long as anyone can remember and it is from within the dusty pages of this HUGE recipe book that she concocts a vast array of nasty potions from the beautiful flowers, nourishing berries and healing plants that she gathers every day at dusk and even though they all gather dust on the cobwebby shelves waiting for the customers who never arrive – Claire is unable to stop weaving her unkind magick…


Vampyres? Werewolves? Oh My!

Matilda ‘Tilly’ Simms hadn’t really enjoyed the celebrations of the festival of Día de los Muertos yesterday as she had been very troubled by the strange behaviour of Murphy – the small furry cat who prowls his way through the sleepy hamlet of All Hallows and who charms all who cross his path – including old Bella Pendle, the grumpy owner of ‘Dogwood & Myrtle General Stores’.

“Oh my!” sighed Tilly as she thought about Murphy stalking the All Hallows graveyard at dusk with some very odd white foam on his face!

And why was he suddenly leaving his grey fur all over the place, she wondered and then she remembered the time she had spotted him hiding behind that strange mask of silver as she was enjoying a quiet walk alone!

“Oh my!” sighed Tilly.

As Tilly is something of a creative soul, her imagination was now flying all over the place like the leaves tumbling from the old oak trees surrounding the All Hallows Hamlet and she began to wonder if the cat she had seen was NOT really Murphy at all BUT a shape-shifter in disguise OR the beastly familiar of an evil witch!

OR could it be that Murphy was now slowly transforming into a werewolf?

“Oh my!” sighed Tilly.

A Black Cat? Scratch That!

On offer and measuring just under 2cm is a miniature glass vial of ‘Black Cat Scratch Fever’

From the shelves of the ‘Harum Scarum Notions & Potions Emporium’ in the All Hallows Hamlet – this is an exclusive (and a somewhat sinister!) remedy freshly brewed from the ancient recipe book belonging to one Claire Eno.

But WHO is the black cat and what have they done to inspire such a potion I wonder?

With a pinch of ‘Cat’s Claw’ suspended in resin, labelled in parchment and finished with old paper tied with jute – this little vial will add a perfect finishing touch to YOUR fantastical miniature world…

OR could YOU discover another use for it?

Whatever your plans for this miniature; this unique vial of ‘Black Cat Scratch Fever’ will find its way to you beautifully packaged with a collectable ‘Thank you’ card and a poster from the ‘Harum Scarum Notions & Potions Emporium’.

This is a collectable miniature and as such is NOT intended as a toy OR suitable for children.

Design and Content © Tee Bylo (The Crooked Hen) All Rights Reserved.

The OtherWorldly Emporium

‘Creating Magick in Miniature’