For Artists, Nurses and Gentlewomen

Our History

Eaton Fund Trustees and Managers

Miss Nellie Eaton

The Fund is named after Ellen Mary Maria Eaton (1866-1949). Nellie Eaton was an acknowledged amateur artist, having a fine command of pen-and-ink drawings and water-colour paintings. She sometimes exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. She was an independent and somewhat eccentric character. She never married and, after her mother's death, lived with a female companion near Canterbury. Her favourite painting locations were around Canterbury, the Kent coast, Romney Marsh, the Medway near Rochester and the East Anglia coast.

Her last wishes were that her capital assets should be used to benefit artists, nurses and gentlewomen. After her death, most of her properties were sold and, in 1954, the Eaton Fund for Artists, Nurses and Gentlewomen became a registered charity, with the aim of giving comfort and support to people in these groups.

Miss Faith Eaton

In April 2005, the death occurred of Miss Eaton's younger cousin, Faith Sybil Eaton. Born in 1927 and, like Nellie, an only child and unmarried, Faith had very fond memories of her godmother Nellie Eaton. Faith became a highly-regarded collector of dolls and dolls' houses. She spent many years collecting, showing her collection to enthusiasts, restoring and advising, as well as writing on her subject. For most of her life she lived and worked in her parents' house in Maida Vale, London. At her death, the Trust inherited her house. Proceeds from the sale of the house have greatly increased the Fund's charitable giving.

Faith Eaton was a major doll and dolls' house collector, known across the Atlantic and throughout Europe. As a child, she was given her first dolls' house (pictured top), which was the start of a large collection. Although Faith trained as an occupational therapist, she was unable to pursue a career for health reasons. Her interest in dolls and dolls' houses took up more and more of her time and energy.

In the 1950s, Faith helped to organise a charity dolls exhibition. When a wax doll arrived damaged, Faith found a way of repairing it. This was the beginning of her career in doll restoration, making and collecting.

She was interested in a wide range of dolls, ancient and modern, and from various countries. She wanted her collection to reflect the social history of all periods and did not eschew dolls made of celluloid or plastic. Her collection of dolls' houses represented every decade of domestic life.

Faith wrote many articles and books and she was happy to give guidance and advice to other collectors. She frequently welcomed visitors from home and abroad to her house in west London. Faith's expertise was used at Windsor Castle  in the restoration of Queen Mary's dolls' house and of the two French dolls, France and Marianne, which had been presented to the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, in 1938. Faith's enormous collection is now dispersed amongst collectors, many of whom were also friends and admirers. Part of her collection is now housed at the Museum of Childhood, part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, where it forms the basis of the Faith Eaton Project.

Faith was a Trustee of the Eaton Fund for 37 years and left her house to the Fund.