Famous Dollhouses

The world's most famous dollhouses range from structures built for royalty to a movie star's fantasy castle. Dollhouses, those magical miniature replicas, can capture the imagination of both children and adults. Several are famous not only for whom they were created for, but also for the piece of art the dollhouse truly is.

Queen Mary's dollhouse is considered the most famous dollhouse in the world. Built in the early 1920s for Queen Mary, it was completed in 1924. Its designer was Sir Edwin Lutyens, and it was created on a 1:12 scale. It is four floors of intricate detail including a garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll, a fully-stocked wine cellar, plus running water and electricity. The grandfather clock in the entrance even chimes on the hour, and the walls of the library are covered in real silk. This exquisite showpiece combined the efforts of more than 1,500 of the best artisans of the era. It is on display at Windsor Castle in England.

Four years after the completion of Queen Mary's dollhouse, work began in the United States on what was to become known as The Fairy Castle. The dream dollhouse of silver screen star, Colleen Moore, this dollhouse took seven years to complete. It was designed by architect Horace Jackson with interior creations by Harold Grieve and lighting by Henry Freulich and Jerry Rouleau. Many of the objects in this dollhouse are priceless, including the world's smallest bible and two statues in the Great Hall that are more than 2,000 years old.

Like Queen Mary's dollhouse, Colleen Moore's masterpiece has full electricity and running water. This dollhouse is a fantastical creation and was designed to be an enchanted castle with its decor celebrating fairy tales. For example, there are murals of Don Quixote stretching across the front turrets; Little Bo Peep, the three little pigs and Humpty Dumpty are in the kitchen, the dining room is King Arthur's table and the drawing room has been designed for Cinderella. This astonishing Fairy Castle dollhouse is on permanent display at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago.

In Germany's oldest town Arnstadt is Mon Plaisir. Mon Plaisir, which means "My Pleasure," is not just a dollhouse but also an entire doll's village. Created by the Princess Dorothea of Schwarzburg-Arnstadt, Mon Plaisir is a baroque village with more than 80 scenes depicting the daily life of the 17th Century German town. It contains more than 400 wax dolls and is on display in the Arnstadt palace museum. The miniature village has scenes featuring kitchens, stables, upper class music rooms and even a convent.

Another famous German dollhouse is Stromer House. Built in 1639, it is one of the oldest known intact dollhouses. In 1879, the Stromer House dollhouse was presented to the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremburg where it currently is on display. It has 15 sections including stables, bedrooms and a detailed kitchen. There are intricately laid out table settings with porcelain cups and bone-handled utensils. The linen cupboard is stocked with folded linens, and the kitchen wall is lined with pots and plates.

There are several famous and notable dollhouses on display throughout the world. In the United States, the Washington Dolls' House and Toy Museum has the Tiffany-Platt House, an American classic circa 1860. It is a facade of a New York brownstone, hinged into three sections and set upon a base. The Nostell Priory, originally designed for Lady Winn, is in Yorkshire, England. This dollhouse, created in 1735, contains most of its original furniture, fixtures and even dolls.

Whether it is a dollhouse built for a queen, princess or movie star, the world's most famous dollhouses each are rich in historical significance, amazing miniature detail and a whimsy that continues to delight and entertain all ages.

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