22 September 2010

Lutyens at Play


that the revered architect Sir Edwin Lutyens & the Never Land Peter Pan would ever cross paths seems unlikely-but there is more than just a passing connection. Lutyens and J.M.Barrie-creator of Peter, the lost boys and the Darling children- were friends. The original sets for the Barrie play were designed by Lutyens.

The nursery was a big square room, with a gay frieze round the walls 
of nursery tale pictures and jungle animals. There was a bathroom
leading out of it, and the playroom was next door.  The window
to which the strange boy had come had never had bars across as
most nurseries do. Wendy's bed was nearest the fire, which had a 
brass fireguard set round it. The boys were on the other side of the 
room, and over each bed there was a night light fixed to the wall.

The story goes that the Darling children's nursery-described by Barrie, was modeled after the Lutyens children's own nursery at Bloomsbury Square. Apparently the British architect's genius lay in many directions, including a love for and a special affinity with children. He let his creativity soar when designing nurseries: a circular nursery- so no child would be sent to stand in a corner, secret windows, & checker board floors laid out for nursery games.

Queen Mary's Doll House

Lutyens delighted in designing Queen Mary's Doll House and included a toy theatre staging Peter Pan- of course. Lady Sackville admonished him for giving more attention to it than to an important commission he had just received for a new headquarters for the Persian Oil Company  (from the LUTYENS TRUST)  The Doll House project commenced in 1920 and was completed in 1924.  All in miniature with nothing left undone, working plumbing, electricity and titled books- their text written out in full.

The Queen's Library

 Lutyens Nursery in the Queen's Doll House

Doesn't this Lilliputian nursery seem just perfect?

Lutyens was known for his energetic nature, his raucous humor and puns. Lady Diana Cooper said  'Duff and I would give up anything if Ned Lutyens was free for lunch-he was such fun.'  E. V. Lucas wrote about him  in The Book of the Queen’s Dolls’ House: ‘...His friends were legion; his mind was electrically instant to respond to any sympathetic suggestion; he never broke his word; he never let you know if he was tired; and with it all he was out for fun.’(from the LUTYENS TRUST) He charmed, he vexed and  he always captivated children. His designs found free reign for whimsy in New Delhi in the nursery at the Viceroy's House. His constant doodlings resulted in a child's delight of chandeliers for the nursery at Viceroy House- Angels in Prayer and Children Fishing.

 light bulbs
-as egg yolks

-as bait off fishing lines

-as celestial stars in orbit.

Sir Edwin & his family 
photographs from the Lutyens Trust here

that Lutyens own children did not delight in his company is quite impossible. There is something of the child in all of us & as Albert Einstein said:

The Pursuit of Truth and Beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted 
to REMAIN CHILDREN all our lives-

The Luytens Trust here
Lutyens Furniture here
Windsor Castle here




  1. I can't believe that doll house. I hope its on display somewhere. I have a little stage with curtains and puppets just waiting for my grandkids to play with.

  2. I have always loved Peter Pan and the Barrie story. The stage of the doll's house is too too adorable or should I say darling? A smasharoo post again.

  3. I remember seeing that dollhouse in a smithsonian magazine as a child ( or was it national geographic?) and becoming OBSESSED with it. I think I still have it in my files! So much so that my grandmother bought me a dollhouse kit which my grandfather and I built together whenever I would visit. Tiny shingles, making wood floors out of popsicles, staining them, wallpapering the rooms, painting - cutting out oriental rugs from magazines for the floors, etc. At the end (5 years later) it was donated to their church bazaar to raise money - such happy memories.

  4. Anyway -my point (which I forgot) -was I had no idea this was by Lutyens -argurably one of my top 5 favorite architects! So happy to know a bit more about his personal life!

  5. thank you That was lovely. Once, when I was in England I was invited to a lovely home that had been designed by Lutyens. It had a beautiful view and I had there a marvelous spread of smoked trout and I still have the recipe ! BUT I embarrassed myself by saying I didn't know who Luytens was.They were all aghast. A lovely day Thank you Dorothy

  6. Donna, it is amazing and resides now at Windsor Castle.

    Stefan- He is a fascinating character and architect-it seems He is truly a one off-Nothing prior or since. It seems you knew where you were headed at an early age. There are a number of books on the dollhouse you should definitely track one down and delve in.

    Anon- oh do say darling! The movie with Johnny Depp Neverland-was a good one. HOpe you saw it.

  7. DO- thanks for sharing that story. I know you looked fantastic that day -so I am sure all was forgiven! xo,pgt

  8. That dollhouse is AMAZING! I think someone like ManRay would have had artistic fun with it!

  9. Lucinda Lambton has just finished a wonderful new book on the dolls house, published by the Royal Collections. It's out next month and is sure to be written with her usual wit and panache.

    Those chandeliers made me smile. Thank you!

  10. ah gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. jealous. want!

  11. Such magic. I'd be happy just to have one of those crates that says 'The Queens Dolls House'.

    I had a brief read on Amazon of 'Parrot and Olivier' and think it's a must for my list. Many thanks.

  12. Simply a wonderful post. I never know what treats are in store for me here. Thanks ever so much.

  13. A wonderful posting! I love the chandeliers and Queen Mary's Doll House brought back memories of the Thorne collection of miniature rooms at the Chicago Art Institute. Thanks, Mark

  14. TCH- Yes wouldnt just one of those crates to have.

    Mark- The Thone rooms are wonderous-I photgraphed them-without much success , however they were delightful to see.

  15. Dear Gaye, that is quite something! A Lutyen's dolls house. Heaven! The pictures and craftmanship is truly amazing. Wasn't he wonderful? xx

  16. an eccentric in the most wonderful way-the Einstein quote says it all and I firmly believe it.

  17. Wonderful to link these two up. That Lutyens --it's not exactly the same but your post makes me think that in French "lutin" means elf !!



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