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Princess Elizabeth's little house - Y Bwthyn Bach

Y Bwthyn Bach

  • Object:

    Princess Elizabeth's little house

  • Place of origin:

    (made)

  • Date:

    1933-1935 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lines Bros. (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted wood, enamelled metal, celluloid

  • Museum number:

    B.125:1, 2-1998

  • Gallery location:

    Museum of Childhood, Creativity Gallery, case 9

  • Image in copyright

This dolls' house was made in the 1930s by Lines Bros of Merton, Surrey. It is a model of the Welsh cottage style playhouse which was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth 11) on her sixth birthday in 1932 by the people of Wales. The original 'Y Bwthyn Bach' now stands in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The cottage was used to raise funds for children's hospital charities before the Princess was allowed to play with it. It has four rooms including a kitchen and bathroom fully equipped with working appliances. Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, loved to give parties in the cottage. Few children had such a large house to play in but this dolls' house version cost 56/- (£2.80) which many parents could afford.

Physical description

The house is broad and stood upon a base painted green. The front opens with two panels to reveal four rooms and a hall and staircase. The front and sides are covered with stucco and painted white; the back is plain wood painted white. There are two large square bay windows and a central door on the ground floor and windows above. There is a side door.
The roof is carved and painted dull yellow to represent thatching. The top of the front panels, over each window, is raised in shape to fit the shape of the roof rather like dormer windows. The four rooms have been wired for lighting, each has a small bulb. These are operated by batteries housed in two compartments at the back of the roof. One has retained its painted wooden cover.
[Dolls' house] Both doors are painted blue with a brass plaque marked LETTERS and are attached with two brass hinges at the back. The front door with a cellophane window may be a replacement. Each side of the front door is a square piller; above is a pediment. There is one step. Tops of the pediment and bay windows are painted blue.
Each bay has two front windows and a window in each side. The front ones, and the rest in the top storey, are square metal frames, enamelled blue, into which are set two enamelled white metal frames, each with 6 panes. The lower ones hinge at the top and bottom, the upper ones at the sides. The upper ones have locks on each. The bay side windows have no framework and hinge top and bottom. All the 'glass' is clear cellophane.
When the front opens, hinged on each outer edge, the left has one bay window and reveals the kitchen and upper room. The right side has the door and one bay window and reveals the hall and a room top and bottom.
The kitchen has a built in dresser on the left wall. The walls are covered with a buff coloured paper and the floor with a paper representing brown and cream tiles. The room above has the remains of a cream patterned wallpaper and the floor paper representings parquet. Attached to the back wall is a cream painted fireplace with a fire in the grate.
But for their wallpapers, the two rooms on the right are the same. The upper one has cream paper with blue and white markings and the lower room with large grey patterned stripes. (This has been partially removed to reveal bits of the original cream paper). All rooms have doors leading to the hall which are painted cream and have a round knob. In the side of the lower right room is the second door.
The front bay window frames are held in place with two tongues, top and bottom, and one each side, folded over the wood of the opening. There are strips of pink and white cloth stuck on to represent curtains. The top frames, enamelled green and white or green and yellow on the inside, are nailed on at the front.
The hall has matching cream wallpaper and parquet flooring, a double straight staircase with the steps lined with red paper. It is behind the front door.
[Chimney] Shaped block of wood with four stacks, painted white. It can sit at any point on the apex of the roof.

Place of Origin

(made)

Date

1933-1935 (made)

Artist/maker

Lines Bros. (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Painted wood, enamelled metal, celluloid

Marks and inscriptions

red, black and gold triangle with a large L in the centre
'Harvey Nichols & Co Ltd/Depository/Bournemouth/Name/No.
Harrod's Limited
Furniture Depository Barnes SW13
...MINOPRIO ESQ
...D.No. 5342 21
11.5/64

Dimensions

Width: 30 in base, Depth: 17 in base, Height: 1¾ in base, Height: 22 in house without chimney
[Chimney] height: 3½ in, width: 2¾ in, depth: 2¾ in

Object history note

This is one of the two examples of dolls' houses modelled on the Welsh cottage style playhouse (child-sized cottage) presented to Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) for her sixth birthday in 1932, by the people of Wales. Called 'Y Bwthyn Bach', the little house was used to raise funds for children's hospital beds before being installed in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Descriptive line

Dolls' house made in England by Lines Bros., early 1930s

Production Note

Reason For Production: retail

Materials

Wood; Metal; Celluloid

Techniques

Painted; Enamelled

Categories

Royalty; Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys

Production Type

mass produced

Collection code

MoC

Qr_O8109
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