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The Little House at Royal Lodge

'Y Bwthyn Bach'

The Welsh Cottage in the gardens of Royal Lodge

In March 1932, on the occasion of Princess Elizabeth's sixth birthday, when the Duke and Duchess of York had started work on the grounds of Royal Lodge, a little straw-thatched cottage, 'Y Bwthyn Bach', (The Little House), was presented to Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in the name of the people of Wales. The gift was received by The Duke and Duchess of York in a ceremony at Cardiff on behalf of the young princesses. It was subsequently re-erected in the gardens of Royal Lodge in April 1932 and was furnished both inside and out. It had its own front garden with scaled down hedges and flower borders. The cottage survives to this day much to the delight of royal children visiting Royal Lodge.
  Prince Andrew, the present Duke of York, has taken over Royal Lodge following the death of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, in 2002. It is understood that Royal Lodge has been thoroughly renovated and modernised before Prince Andrew took up residence. No doubt '
Y Bwthyn Bach' will receive similar treatment.


The Duke and Duchess of York with the princesses Margaret (L) and Elizabeth
outside Y Bwthyn Bach

postcard of Y Bethyn Bach

A postcard of Y Bwthyn Bach, The Little House, with
Princess Elizabeth standing in the doorway

Builders or Gardeners?

January 2007: We were delighted to receive this picture of a group of workmen at 'The Little House'. We are hoping to discover if they were looking after the gardens, or had just finished building the house.

The Little House Doll's House

We are very pleased to have been sent this photograph of The Little House by Ann Smith who lives in Cornwall. She writes:

In 2002 I bought an old dolls' house in a shop in Macclesfield, Cheshire, where we used to live, because it was so unusual. All I knew was that it had belonged to a family who lived in Scotland. When moving house in 2003, I was sorting through a box of my childhood books when I found one of my favourites. It was given to me to mark the Queen's Coronation in 1953 and called 'Elizabeth Our Queen'. It was unmarked and well preserved and as I sat on the staircase reading it - low and behold - a picture of my dolls' house. I couldn't believe it - what fate! It is an exact replica of The Little House, but I cannot find out anything about it. The lady who owned the local dolls' house shop in Macclesfield seemed to remember that they had produced a limited number of replicas. My husband however feels that someone might have made it themselves as it is neither 1/12 or 1/16th scale. I am keen to find out its origins but, in the mean time thoroughly enjoying renovating it. Perhaps one of your readers might have some more information.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Ann Smith (Mrs)

We would be delighted to pass on any information. Please email us here at Thamesweb or you would be welcome to contribute a post on our Discussion Board here - The Little House at Royal Lodge

The Presentation of The Little House in 1932

This is the story of "Y Bwthyn Bach" as recalled by Jean Sharman, née Blake, who, as a young girl, was closely involved in the presentation of the house to The Royal Family in 1932. We are very grateful to Jean and her husband Frank Sharman, now living in Canada, who made these pictures and story available to The Royal Windsor Website.

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret sitting at the front door
of 'Y Bwthyn Bach'

Y Bwthyn Bach was the miniature house built for Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, and presented to her through her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York in 1932 by a little girl, Jean, dressed in traditional Welsh costume.

Jean Sharman, née Blake, in her Welsh costume

Jean meets a smiling The Duchess of York with the Duke of York looking on

Jean alongside the Duke and Duchess of York during the presentation

The presentation party

The ceremony took place in Cardiff on Wednesday, March 16th, 1932. The house still stands in the private grounds of Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park. Jean, now resident in Canada, still has many memories of the wonderful charm of the playtime cottage. Our present Queen must have enjoyed playing in it with her sister, Princess Margaret.

The Duchess of York ducks carefully as she emerges from the house after having a good look around

It was a simple cottage reproducing, through the whitewashed walls and a thatched roof, the charming Welsh cottages which are typical of the hillsides. The layout of a typical Welsh cottage interior was closely followed. The central doorway opens onto a small hallway with the kitchen on the right and the "Siamber fach" (Little Chamber) on the left. A charming staircase wanders up to the bedroom and a modern (at that time) bathroom.

In the picture above Jean is sitting at the kitchen table pouring a cup of tea from a teapot, one of the many items of houseware with which the cottage was equipped

The miniature house pays tribute to the wonderful skills and workmanship in all the features of the building. It was installed with both hot and cold water supplies, electric lighting and power and a telephone, all working despite being on a much reduced scale.
   The proud little Welsh girl in the picture is Jean Sharman. She is also very proud that her father, William Blake, was one of the craftsmen involved in creating this lovely gift to the Princess. Jean remembers much of the ceremony and meeting the Duke and Duchess of York, Elizabeth's parents, but did not meet Princess Elizabeth herself, as she did not accompany her parents on this occasion. The Duke and Duchess were later to become George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother) when Edward VIII abdicated. Jean, also remembers the royal dog and all the cars and the formalities and takes pride that, like the Princess, Jean followed with service in WWII when she became a 'Wren' (WRNS, the Women's Royal Naval Service), and after quite a few adventurous years is very happy now as she enjoys her time in this fine community of the Village By The Arboretum, Ontario, Canada, in a house which she calls home "on rather a larger scale".

© Jean and Frank Sharman 2008

Additional References

The Little House is also featured in a book Round and About Windsor by Olwen Hedley and originally published in the late 1930s by Oxley and Sons, owners of The Windsor, Slough and Eton Express at the time. Mr Hedley recalls that the cottage 'was twice despatched on a lorry from Wales to Windsor. for the first time the journey was only half accomplished when an accident occurred and the cottage was found to be on fire. It was taken back, the slight damage quickly put right, and soon Y Bwthyn Bach arrived without further mishap at Royal Lodge where a charming setting had been prepared for it on the south side of the garden.'

Inside the house Olwen Hedley describes a smiling portrait of the Duchess of York hanging inn the place of honour above the parlour fireplace. 'There are four rooms, two down and two up, with a tiny hall and landing, all lit with lattice windows and gay blue and white checked curtains, blue carpets and white paint.'

The cottage also has 'a wireless, a reading lamp, Welsh dresser set with blue and gold china and a well-filled bookcase containing many of Beatrix Potter's miniature best-sellers, including the famous Jemima Puddleduck.'

In short, Olwen Hedley describes what must have been a true wonderland for the young princesses and the other children from around and about who would have been invited round to play there.

The Little House remains in the grounds of Royal Lodge, and the layout of the surrounding garden appears as it was originally in 1932.

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The Little House at Royal Lodge

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