Illustrated Guide to Titania's Palace, introduction (Nevile Wilkinson)

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The idea of Titania's Palace first came to Sir Nevile Wilkinson at his home, Mount Merrion, which was situated on a wooded hill a few miles south of Dublin. During the summer of 1907 he was at work at his easel, drawing the trunk of an old sycamore, when his daughter, aged three, declared that she saw a fairy disappear among the moss which covered the twisted roots.

This event led to the conviction that there was at the roots of the tree some subterranean dwelling where the fairies, or Little People, took shelter during the daylight, to come out when the moon was up, and perform their customary dances in the fairy rings, which were plainly outlined on the adjacent lawns. In this dwelling were preserved, no doubt, the treasures of Fairyland, together during many ages, and hidden from the eyes of human children. It seemed to the author a pity that so much beauty should lie for ever hidden, and it occurred to him that if a special building were made above ground, The Fairy Queen and her Court might he persuaded to transfer themselves and their treasures to the visible palace, so that all the children of the world might be invited to admire them. In pursuance of this idea, and to fulfil the promise made to his daughter that she should be shown the home to which the fairy had returned, he began to draw the plan of a miniature building, which by the beauty of its decoration should be fit for the residence of Her Iridescence, Queen Titania, her Consort Oberon, and the Royal Family of Fairyland. While the exterior was being carefully fashioned in the workshop of James Hicks, of Dublin, Sir Nevile Wilkinson was using every minute of his spare time in painting tapestries, mosaics, tiles, frescoes, and the rest of those wonderful interior decorations which we associate with Italy of the Renaissance. The ground plan of the Palace is in the form of a hollow rectangle, nine feet by seven feet, occupying an area of sixty-three square feet. The total height is twenty-seven inches, it contains sixteen rooms in all, built round a central courtyard, and is lighted and heated throughout by electricity. It was not until July 6th, 1922, that the Palace was opened by Her Majesty, Queen Mary, on the anniversary of her wedding day, and was shown to the public at the Woman's Exhibition at Olympia that summer. Since then it has visited more than 160 cities in the British Isles, the United States and S. America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It has been admired by 1,700,000 people, and has handed to associations which work for the welfare of crippled, neglected or unhappy children the sum of £80,000. Titania's Palace is built insections, so that it can be packed safely for travel. In the rooms will be found a collection of tiny objects of art, collected by the author during thirty-five years of travelin all parts of the world; a collection which never could be replaced. In addition to this unique assemblage of antique specimens of tiny-craft, there are some of the most perfect specimens of modern craftsmanship made by human hands, including examples by Fred. Early, Tommy Lennon, Pierre Metge, Charles Bennett, Horace Uphill, and Arthur Dunn. The inlaid floors are the work of Colonel Alexander Gillespie of Vevey. A full description of each room is given in this Guide-book, with illustrations of the principal apartments.