A treasured object in the Royal Collection Trust – Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – will be central focus of a special display at Windsor Castle this year.
The display will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the miniature, which is the largest and most famous dolls’ house in the world.
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House was built between 1921 and 1924 as a gift from the nation to Queen Mary following the First World War.
The house is a 1:12 scaled replica of an Edwardian residence, and features electricity, working lifts and running water! Rooms include a fully stocked wine cellar and ‘below-stairs’ spaces to entertaining salons.
This year’s exhibition at Windsor Castle will see a special centenary display of items which can usually be found within the Dolls’ House, displayed in the Waterloo Chamber at the Castle.
Items on show range from a tiny concert grand piano, fully strung and with working keys and even miniature Crown Jewels with real diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls.
From the kitchens and servants’ quarters visitors can see a vacuum cleaner (a relatively new innovation in the 1920s), a sewing machine, complete with thread and minuscule scissors that can actually cut, and a copper kettle made from a coin, with the King’s head still visible on its base.
The display allows visitors to get even closer to these tiny items and admire the intricate detail that the craftspeople involved on every piece.
The room at Windsor Castle that was originally created to house the Dolls’ House has also been re-presented to mark the anniversary. Designed by the house’s architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, it features murals by the decorative landscape artist Philip Connard together with the artists Dorothy Cohen and Winifred Hardman.
The house was taken off display last year to undergo conservation.
Kathryn Jones, curator of the special display, said: ‘Queen Mary‘s Dolls’ House is a constant source of fascination for visitors to Windsor Castle, as irresistible to adults as it is to children. We are thrilled that we can bring the tiny treasures of the Dolls’ House to a wider audience in this anniversary year.’
The Royal Collection Trust highlights how one of the main attractions of the Doll’s House is its Library, which has captured the literature culture of the 1920s through miniature books penned by the era’s most prestigious writers, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Vita Sackville-West, to A. A. Milne and Thomas Hardy.
In addition to the display, there will be a range of events and activities throughout the year to mark the anniversary including:
– a Dolls’ House-themed family trail for visitors to Windsor Castle, as well as family activities during the Easter holidays
– an online evening event in April will see Royal Collection Trust curators revealing behind-the-scenes details and sharing how the house is conserved for future generations to enjoy
– a series of courses held at the Castle in collaboration with the Royal School of Needlework will include a private tour of the Dolls’ House and hand-embroidery workshops inspired by the intricate motifs found on upholstery throughout the house.
Book your tickets for Windsor Castle’s new display here.