Y Bwthyn Bach is a royal Wendy house within Windsor Great Park in England. The architect who designed this eclectic and neoclassical house is Edmund Morgan Willmott.
The Little Cottage: Y Bwthyn Bach is a royal Wendy house standing close to Royal Lodge within Windsor Great Park in England. It is also called “The Little Cottage.”
It was a gift to Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain) from the people of Wales and placed in the grounds of Royal Lodge.
The term ‘Wendy house‘ means a small playhouse for children, large enough for one or more children to enter. Usually, there is a room, a doorway with a window on either side and little or no furniture. This particular house came complete with electric lighting and running water and cutlery, utensils, and furniture.
The architecture of the cottage: The architect who designed the house is Edmund Morgan Willmott. The architectural style is eclectic and neo-classical. Eclecticism is a way of borrowing different styles from various sources and combining them. In this case, we see a modern house with a thatched roof, which was a combination of traditional and current. Neoclassical architecture derived inspiration from European art, typically that of Greek and Roman style.
At 22 feet wide and 15 feet high, it was built to two-thirds scale and contained a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. The cottage also had a lot of Welsh characteristics, as the craftsmen were all Welsh people. It was a simple cottage reproducing, through the whitewashed walls and a thatched roof, the charming Welsh cottage which is typical of the hillsides. 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. All the furniture and landscaping like hedges and shrubs around the cottage were made miniature for the children.
Historical and political importance: “For security reasons, the Correspondence Team are unable to accept any unsolicited gifts sent to The Queen.” This rule is set for the royal family for generations. However, the Queen, (then a princess), was able to use the Wendy House as it was an official gift that came from the people of Wales. And because it doesn’t belong to the Royal Collection Trust.
Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret looked after it themselves and for many years it was their favorite toy. It was a place for these sisters to spend a substantial amount of time in their childhood, so naturally, it became one of the most treasured and historically important structures.
The cottage was dispatched on a lorry from Wales to transfer it to Windsor. However, the journey was unsuccessful as an unfortunate accident occurred and the thatched roof of the house caught fire. It had to be transferred back to Wales, as the mishap happened halfway through the journey. The damage was duly repaired in Wales, and later the house was exhibited at the Ideal Home Exhibition in Olympia. Soon enough, ‘The Little Cottage’ once again set on a journey towards Windsor. It reached its final destination at the Royal Lodge in Windsor, where it still stands.
Many people who have had the great opportunity to visit ‘The Little Cottage’ have written about it and shared valuable photos. They were all, indeed, sad when the house was transferred away from the public eyes and tucked away in the Royal Lodge grounds.
Current status: Y Bwthyn Bach has been in the family for over 80 years. All the royal children and grandchildren have played in it. Princess Beatrice, the granddaughter of the Queen, helped to restore the house in 2012. Restoration included new curtains and upholstery. The paintwork is re-done, the roof is re-thatched and the cottage is re-wired. The original blue color scheme is replaced by pale green sofa coverings and cream curtains with tiny dark pink flowers.
Structures like ‘The Little Cottage” are an integral part of history, culture, and tradition. For the royal family, it is like an heirloom that is passed down from generation to generation. It carries as much emotional importance as historical. It was the source of joy for England’s Queen in her childhood. It was admired by all because this cottage was specially made with modern facilities and seemed like a real house, scaled down for children. It has a quaint appearance due to the thatched roof used and almost seems out of a fairy-tale.
Many people have blogs and photos dedicated to the memory of the little house. Since it is now situated in the private grounds of the Royal Lodge, it can only be accessed by members of the royal family and the people they wish to invite. If it were in its earlier location, it would have become a point of interest for tourists, especially those who focus on heritage and history. There is, however, a video of a tour of the house available for people to watch.