Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House

The July/August 2017 issue of PieceWork features a story on Charlotte Brontë and the Sidgwick dollhouse, housed in the collection of the Leeds Museums and Art Galleries. It’s amazing how the change in scale of a dolls’ house leads to a vastly different perspective when looking at everyday objects.

Another magnificent dolls’ house also resides in Great Britain. If you’re fortunate enough to visit Windsor Castle, a must if you hop the pond, don’t miss Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. At a scale of 1:12, this castle within a castle is a true wonder.

dolls’ house

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, is packed up in readiness for despatch to Windsor. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Queen Mary (1867–1953) was an avid collector and patron of the arts. The suggestion for a dolls’ house came from her cousin, Princess Marie Louise (1872–1956). Constructed after the Great War (1914–1918) during the years 1921 to 1924 by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, no detail was overlooked in the fabrication of this miniature aristocratic residence or in the thousands of miniature objects that inhabit the dwelling. Plus, the dolls’ house was fitted with the modern conveniences of the day, including both electricity and hot and cold running water. All facets of British high-born life are represented—both upstairs and downstairs. It is truly a dolls’ house fit for a queen!

dolls’ house

Queen Mary circa 1926: Queen Mary (1867-1953), wife of George V, the King of England. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House contains no shortage of miniature needlework. Nearly every room holds tiny textile treasures and even the means to make them complete with threads, trimmings, and a miniature sewing machine. From crochet bedspreads and embroidered table linens to needlepoint cushions and silk rugs, the presence of opulent needlecraft infuses the abode with regal warmth.

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

To learn more about Queen Mary and her amazing dolls’ house, read Deborah Pulliam’s article “Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House” featured in the November/December 2000 issue, which is included in the PieceWork 1993-2000 Ultimate Collection. The Ultimate Collection helps you build your own collection of PieceWork for an in-depth perspective on the history of needlework. Priceless!

—Elizabeth

Featured Image: World’s smallest medicine chest in Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Image courtesy of wikicommons and Wellcome Images.


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