Introduction (Mirror Grange, Pip, Squeak and Wilfred)

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

INTRODUCTION By THE EDITOR OF THE "DAILY MIRROR".

THE Daily Mirror has pleasure, and a great deal of pride, in announcing the exhibition of a "model" house which will, we are confident, evoke the admiration of a very wide circle of people.

It is not a "model" house such as property agents' advertisements commonly describe. It is a house in miniature, a home (but of no ordinary design), with cosy rooms and fascinating furniture, of cunningly contrived vistas and charming nooks with an imposing tower, in which it is whispered "ghosts" play their appointed part.

Commandingly set upon a rock, unassailable by adverse elements or tempest, the house is an extraordinarily interesting adventure into the romantic, the faerie and the practical. Its dimensions and detail may be grasped by an appreciation of the figures which are given further on.

Such in brief is the scheme. It has been carried into being thanks in a very large measure to Mr. Maxwell Ayrton, F.R.I.B.A., and Mr. George Sheringham (to whom the suggestion was first conveyed), who without any financial reward but wholly inspired by a high artistic purpose devoted a large part of their time to the creation of a work worthy of British art.

The Daily Mirror desires most cordially to thank all those who have assisted in the enterprise and to congratulate them upon an achievement of outstanding excellence.

The house, Dream Home, or what you will -- actually its title is Mirror Grange -- is no slap-dash or jerry-built affair. It has been the product of nearly a year's intense work. Neither is the furniture cheap-jack.

The whole is an artistic conception, and is a striking monument to architectural imagination, and to British craftsmanship.

The limitations, artistic and financial, imposed upon the collaborators must, of course, be fully appreciated. A large "dolls' house" containing everything in perfection would cost a gigantic sum of money. Others explain in this book the difficulties of reproduction in miniature. Certain things have, therefore, to be taken for granted; but these will not detract from the enjoyment of the loyal admirers of Pip, Squeak and Wilfred who inspect the house.

Mr. Maxwell Ayrton, F.R.I.B.A., who, it will be recalled, was joint architect of the Wembley Exhibition, designed the Stadium and the new bridge to cross the Thames at Richmond, is the author of the model. The Daily Mirror gave Mr. Ayrton a free hand to design a house in which its famous trio of philosophers, satirists, comic spirits and entertainers, Pip, Squeak and Wilfred (and satellites) might move and have their being -- and splendidly has he carried out the idea.

As will be seen, Mr. Ayrton's conception has resulted in the building of an Old Manor House in which, it is clear, the Gugnuncly Family have a well-rooted history. There is nothing upstart in it from roof to cellar. Indeed, the atmosphere is almost one of austere orderliness and tranquillity.

Here Pip, Squeak and Wilfred or their forbears must have lived for generations. Many beautiful things have been collected and handed down. The modern note has not been heard within the mellow walls of this sequestered domicile. It is English domestic history, dignified and stable, in a visible form.

That well-known designer and artist Mr. George Sheringham has helped enormously. He specially designed the wallpapers, directed the painting of the model, took a hand in the work himself, including the painting of reproductions of old colour prints. Mr. Sheringham's wallpapers are a delight in themselves, simple, charming and in complete harmony with their surroundings.

Much also is due to the skill and enthusiasm of Mr. Victor Hembrow, the gifted scene painter. He has been one of the impelling forces in creating and maintaining enthusiasm from start to finish. Work was begun in the early months of 1929 and was completed in December. Much of the actual furniture, the wonderful little ornaments, the carving of the trees, the thatched roofs, have been painted by Mr. Hembrow. His fascinating creations in the diminutive will excite the appreciation of the artistic world.

Mrs. Grace Lovat Fraser, whose work in the sphere of decoration and design is widely known, designed and chose the curtains and supervised many other formidable details. She has given each of the rooms a comfortable and old-world atmosphere. Her assistant was Miss Stella Pearce. Miss Polly Hill Clarke, the carver of wood figures, is responsible for many of the appointments in the Nursery, and the Rocking Horse she has made is sure to be coveted by every child Gugnunc.

Sir Arthur Cope, K.C.V.O., R.A., has painted a wonderful miniature portrait of his Majesty the King, which hangs over the dining-room chimney piece.

Mr. Walter Russell, R.A. (Keeper of the Royal Academy and a Trustee of the National Gallery), has contributed a tiny full-length portrait of her Majesty the Queen -- a most delicate and beautiful example of his work which will excite much admiration. It shows her Majesty in Court dress wearing the Order of the Garter.

Mr. Reginald Eves, a distinguished member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters., has specially painted a little portrait of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. It is a striking likeness and will prove to be a very popular portrait of the Prince.

Sir William Orpen, K.B.E., R.A., has done three portraits of the three famous pets, Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. They are Sir William's own idea as to how these pets should look "in real life." Each is a little masterpiece and in technique and colour equal to anything this famous artist has done. Sir William is himself a "Noble Nunc," and has always taken a great interest in everything connected with the pets.

Mirror Grange made its first public appearance at the Grafton Galleries. A small charge for admission is made and the profits will be assigned to the Heritage Craft Schools for Crippled Children at Chailey.

Figures which give an impressive idea of all that is involved in the production of the model are as follow:-

Height of the model 7 ft. 6 in.
Width, etc. 8 ft. long, 7 ft. wide.
Area covered 56 sq. ft.
Number of rooms Twelve.
Depth ft inWidth ft inHeight in
Dairy 1' 2 58" 11 12" 7 34"
Scullery 1' 1" 11 18" 8
Bedroom 1' 2 38" 1' 0 12" 8
Kitchen 10 14" 1' 8 14" 8
Nursery 1' 1" 1' 7" 8
Dining-room 1' 2 12" 1' 6 12" 8 12"
Bedroom 1' 2 12" 1' 6 12" 7
Attic No.1 1' 2 14" 1' 3 12" 9
Attic No.2 1' 2 14" 1' 7 14" 9
Bathroom 9" 1' 1 12" 7
Drawing-room 1' 2 12" 1' 7" 8 12"
Bedroom 1' 2 12" 1' 7" 7

The rooms include a dining-room, a drawing-room, a nursery, a bathroom, a dairy, three main and other bedrooms.

The whole of the construction was carried on in the workshop of Messrs. Higgs and Hill, in South Lambeth Road. And it was interesting to see how enthusiasm spread as the scheme took shape.

In this establishment, devoted to the big rather than the little, some of us were regarded at first with an amused tolerance. But later everybody was helping, everybody wanted to be "in it" -- a happy augury and an inspiration.

So excellent is the craftsmanship exhibited that a list of those actively engaged in the work may be given :-

  • Foreman, Wood Work: Mr. W. J. Sanford.
  • Structure: Messrs. E. C. Winks, E. F. Thomas, R. Steggall, A. R. Slater, G. W. Barlow, T. Branson and E. G. Strands.
  • Furniture Structure: Messrs. T. A. Warn, G. Whitaker and F. Robinson.
  • Metal Work: Mr. R. J. Goard.
  • Construction -- Planning: Mr. Culves.

These skilled craftsmen have shown what British skill can achieve. Clearly they need entertain no apprehension that they are inferior to foreign workers in the same school.

Other contributors enlarge upon various features which Mirror Grange notably contains. I will not intrude. But for those, if any, who are so uninstructed upon important affairs as to be unfamiliar with Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, I should explain that this well-assorted trio of performers appear every day in the Daily Mirror; and, not content in this, continue their capers in the Sunday Pictorial.

Some of Mr. A. B. Payne's drawings are reproduced in this book from the Daily Mirror -- and from this journal are borrowed many articles which have appeared on Mirror Grange. Mr. Payne is inimitable. I doubt if he has any equal in his particular line.

Mr. Peter North is to be congratulated upon many fine and artistic photographs that are reproduced in this book. The other illustrations have been supplied by the Daily Mirror photographers.

It is the fervent hope of all of us who have been engaged in the production of Mirror Grange that it will be a source of joy and amusement. It is, I think, a thing of great worth in itself; and being associated with a high charitable enterprise its appeal should not fall upon deaf ears or buttoned-up pockets.
ALEXANDER CAMPBELL
December, 1929

— , Alexander Campbell, , "MIRROR GRANGE: The Book of the Daily Mirror's House for Pip, Squeak and Wilfred", , 1929