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A House Fit For A Queen - Articles Surfing
Queen Mary's Doll House is arguably the most magnificent display of beauty, detail, and creativity of any dollhouse in history. King George V of the United Kingdom presented this house to Queen Mary in 1924 as a gift from the people of England to reveal to future generations how royalty lived during the early twentieth century.
Princess Marie Louise was the first to broach the idea of creating such a masterpiece with Sir Edwin Lutyens, one of England's top architects of the time. Taken by the notion, Lutyens immediately set forth on designing a house that would be fit for a queen, no expenses spared. He wanted to create a fully furnished miniature home that was accurate to items found in Windsor Castle, down to the finest detail.
Built at 1:12 scale and standing nearly three and a half feet high, the forty room doll house began to take shape. Lutyens employed artists and artisans to work on the interior. To provide an idea of the detail and care given to these rooms, they built a front foyer complete with a swirling staircase to the second floor, a library with walnut bookcases, a servant's pantry equipped with all modern conveniences of the day, and a Queen's bedroom with a four-poster bed, the night sky painted on the ceiling.
These little touches alone would be enough to make the Queen Mary's Doll House one of the most impressive miniatures ever created. Sir Lutyens had plans that were more ambitious.
He insisted it necessary that everything within the house be fully functional. He hired electricians to make every light and chandelier work, plumbers to make every toilet flush and tap run, and crafters to have the two elevators stop at every floor. He even went so far as to have a one-twelfth scale gramophone built to work as a normal one when played.
Sir Lutyens had talented furniture makers of the day make small replicas of the furniture found in Windsor Castle. He had all cupboards stocked with canned goods that bore logos of popular brands found in the real Queen's kitchen. He had linens, curtains, clothes, nursery toys, and rugs created to scale. The basement wine cellar contained miniature bottles of wine with real labels filled with a thimble's worth of the actual advertised wine. The lavatory even had its own roll of toilet paper.
Over one hundred and seventy writers, from Poet Laureate Robert Bridges to Rudyard Kipling, were commissioned to write miniature books for the Library. Well-known artists supplied watercolours and art for the Queen Mary's Doll House.
As the project ballooned, Sir Lutyens chaired a Dolls* House Committee to oversee all these artists, writers, and companies eager to lend there services to his vision.
No detail was forgotten. There was Royal Doulton and Wedgewood China, a Singer sewing machine in the linen room, utensils, ornaments, napkins, stamp albums, and a little snail crawling on a leaf in the garden.
It made its first appearance in 1924 at the British Empire Exhibition, attracting two million visitors before it was relocated to Windsor Castle. There the dollhouse remains today for anyone to see and enjoy.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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