In contrast to the concrete, cranes and concourses of last week, I thought we’d go full tilt in the opposite direction with a blog post on 'Y Bwthyn Bach’ or ‘The Little House,’ as it is also known.
Coming from a line of small women, it was clear I would never reach Amazonian proportions…...more like Shetland pony. My friend’s parents used to joke that I’d be sleeping in the ‘wendy house’ when I stayed with them, and that was in my twenties. I would have no problem with a stay in the Queen’s wendy house though, bequeathed to her on her sixth birthday, in 1932 by the people of Wales.
The dinky thatched cottage was a labour of love, showcasing the best of traditional Welsh craftsmanship and vernacular architecture. Even if it was only 22 feet wide x 15 feet high (built to two/fifths scale), this was no typical Welshman’s home, it came with all mod cons; gas cooker, fridge, miniature telephone, radio, heated towel rack and running water etc. It was the most luxurious ‘playing house’ toy of its kind and one where crouching adults weren’t allowed, except by invitation. I imagine the Queen Mother’s portrait hanging in the sitting room reminded the princesses to be very good at all times though.
The miniature furnishings of Y Bwthyn Bach have always fascinated me, because I’m fanatical about proportion and scale, a designer’s habit. It makes me wonder what the must have mod cons are of today’s wendy houses…… a Farrow and Ball painted interior in a fashionable shade of grey, a digital fire, mini ipad and Ercol furniture? They are in many ways an adult’s reflection of domestic bliss which children love to mimic.
After catching fire en route and being repaired, the house was exhibited at the Ideal Home Exhibition in Olympia, and then tucked away in the grounds of the Royal Lodge at Windsor Castle – away from prying eyes. Though sad I have to rely on the Daily Mail for the most recent pictures, I suppose I wouldn’t want my favourite toy played with my members of the general public either.
Princess Beatrice talks to Andrew Marr about refurbishing the cottage. Courtesy of the DM.
As we all know, our height decreases with age, so I’ve decided I’ll build my own version in later life.