19 April 2023
Moi Ali investigates a lesser-known royal dolls house situated in Glamis Castle, Scotland.
Think ‘royal dolls houses’ and you’ll no doubt have in mind Queen Mary’s dolls house at Windsor Castle. It’s perhaps one of the most famous dolls houses in the world. Lesser known and less grand, but no less charming for that is another royal dolls house, which can be found at Glamis Castle.
Glamis (in Angus, Scotland) was the childhood home of the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the dolls house was her personal plaything. Unlike its more famous cousin at Windsor (which was designed by top architect Sir Edwin Lutyens), this royal residence looks like it was built by an estate carpenter. I have tried to find out more but unlike the thousands of references to Queen Mary’s dolls house on Google, there’s almost nothing about this one.
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The house is quite grand as dolls houses go, but quite humble when compared with Queen Mary’s. It’s a Victorian double-fronted ‘stone’ villa which contains a real mix of items. Some are quite exquisite, such as the intricate hand-stitched needlepoint rugs, the beautiful tapestry frame on which the royal coat of arms is being worked, and the delicately-made dining table. Others are clearly cheap, mass-produced toys such as the resin flowers, the chunky Chinese-made occasional tables and the crudely-fashioned dining chairs. The latter are surely later additions, which were never held by a royal hand!
Nods to the regal provenance of the house can be found in the framed family photographs of the Queen Mum and other royals. It gives the house a cosy, family feel. The royal coat of arms can also be seen on the pokerwork fireplace in the dining room, and in the lion rampant design on the dining room carpet.
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The dolls house isn’t the only miniature on display. You’ll also find a detailed model of Glamis Castle, commissioned by the London department store Harrods to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday. It was displayed in Harrods window in 1980, and later presented by the then Chairman of Harrods, Sir Hugh Fraser, to the Queen Mother. She subsequently gave it to the 17th Earl of Strathmore to display at Glamis.
You’ll also find a right royal collection of miniature Brittan’s lead figures against regal backdrops such as the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh on display at Glamis. Taken together, these make Glamis a fabulous day out for a miniaturist – so if you are heading to bonny Scotland anytime soon, add it to your itinerary.
Model of Glamis Castle
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