Vivienne Dayrell-Browning was born on August 1 1905 and brought up in England and the Continent. “My childhood,” she said, “was spent moving house, which I hated.” She was a precocious child: when she was 13 a book of her poetry, The Little Wings, was published at the behest of her mother. “I felt,” Vivien recalled, describing her embarrassment at the publication, “as if I should go up in flames”. Vivien married the author Graham Greene in 1927.Image

During the war Vivien Greene and her children lived in Oxford after their house in London had been bombed. At a local auction she came across an old dolls’ house which so charmed her that she bought it and took it back on the bus with her that day. As war raged and her marriage disintegrated, she restored and furnished the dolls’ house, and began collecting others, filling the Greenes’ rented home with her miniature world. The art critic John Rothenstein, on a visit to the Greenes’ house, noted dryly that while Vivien was “attending to the needs of multifarious tiny, fragile objects, Greene looked on with a detached eye”.

After the marriage ended, she travelled the world to add to her collection, and in the 1960s Greene gave her the money to build the Rotunda, a dolls’ house museum at her home near Oxford. By the mid-1990s, the Rotunda contained some 41 miniature castles, cottages and manors, all furnished down to the last tiny piece of porcelain. Her expertise in the field of historic dolls’ houses and their social history was such that she received visitors from all over the world. She herself continued to travel widely, despite failing eyesight. Vivien Dayrell-Browning Greene died in Oxfordshire at the age of 99.

Her publications include English Dolls’ Houses of the 18th and 19th Centuries (1955) and The Vivien Greene Dolls’ House Collection (1995). Below is a picture of the Portobello Doll’s House (1700-1710). This Doll’s House was part of the Vivien Greene Collection and was acquired by Tara’s Palace at auction in 1998.


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How Old Is Teddy? Vintage Teddies at Tara’s Palace Museum.

There are several features that help to determine the age of a vintage teddy:

  • THE MAKER – Often, bears can be attributed to their maker simply by style or look. Premium and highly sought after bears are by makers such as Steiff, Chiltern, Joy Toys or Ideal.
  • FUR OR FABRIC – Mohair was used originally. Felt was used for the pads of the earliest bears. Later, after WW1, cotton was popular (as cotton, brushed or velveteen).
  • STUFFING – The earliest bears were stuffed with woodwool (excelsior), made from long, fine wood shavings. This gave the teddy a crunchy feel if squeezed.
  • SHAPE – The very earliest bears had a comparatively pointed snout and longer limbs. Early bears were jointed with cardboard or metal discs, attached with metal pins.
  • EYES – Originally, from 1902-1915, teddy bear eyes were wooden or leather-covered wooden boot buttons, on wire hooks or shanks. Glass eyes replaced these from WW1.
  • NOSE – Generally, noses were originally hand-stiched with black or brown thread. Many makers had their own distinctive shape.
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St. Patrick’s Weekend at Tara’s Palace

Lots of things happening at Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood for St. Patrick’s weekend 2012.
Home to Ireland’s Largest Period Doll House (Tara’s Palace) and the Smallest Doll in the World, we will have a special quiz testing your knowledge of the customs, traditions and celebration of St. Patrick’s Day running from March 1st.
There will be a “Find the Leprechaun Competition” running during the festival weekend and FREE face painting between 2 and 4pm on Monday, March 19th (Bank Holiday). For more information on the museum go to our website www.taraspalace.ieImage
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Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood at Powerscourt House is now taking bookings for Primary and Post Primary School tours. CALL US TODAY 01 2748090 .

At Tara’s Palace children can see Ireland’s largest doll’s house, tiny works of art in miniature, a variety of other dolls houses and toys dating back 300 years. They can try our Museum Quiz and have fun in the interactive room playing with toys and/or colouring pictures. All children will receive a prize for entering the quiz. The cost per child is only €2.50 from which a donation is made to Irish children’s charities. There is no charge for supervisors.

Coach parking is available on site. There is a courtyard area for children to have their picnics. The Avoca Terrace Cafe has a large selection of food including salads, soup, sandwiches, hot meals and delicious cakes and pastries. There are plenty of open spaces for children to explore after their visit and lunch.

A visit to the Powerscourt Garden or Waterfall can be included in your visit. Call Powerscourt on 01 2046000 for bookings and prices.

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Happy Christmas 2011

Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood will close today and will reopen on Tuesday 27th December 2011. We would like to wish all our visitors, volunteers and supporters a very Happy Christmas.

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Christening Robe Collection

Angela Somerfield donated this beautiful christening robe to Tara’s Palace. The robe dates from the 1920’s and belonged to Angela’s aunt who was a nurse and worked for Lord and Lady Redesdale. Lord Redesdale is also known as The Hon David Freeman-Mitford. The Mitfords are a family of Northumberland landed gentry, dating back to the 14th century.

The couple had one son and six daughters, who all used the surname Mitford rather than Freeman-Mitford. The girls were known collectively as the Mitford Sisters. Nancy and Jessica became well-known writers. It is thought the dress was worn by several of the Mitford children.

A collection of Christening Robes is now on display at Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood, Powerscourt House, Wicklow.

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Our Christmas Charity for 2011.

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We have a Winner!

The winner of the Name the Doll Competition is Elizabeth Whiston with her entry of “Gwendolyn”. We picked this name because of its close association with the museum. During the summer of 1907 in Dublin, a little girl called Gwendolyn, aged 3, declared to her father, Sir Neville Wilkinson, that she saw a fairy disappear among the moss at the bottom of an old sycamore tree. Sir Neville promised his daughter that she would see the home to which the fairy had returned. He then set in motion the creation of a miniature palace called Titania’s Palace, and commissioned James Hicks of Dublin to create the exterior. It was through the loss of Titania’s Palace from Ireland to Denmark in 1967 that Mr Ron McDonnell was inspired to build another miniature Palace and thus began the story of Tara’s Palace.

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Miniature Making Classes at Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood

Create your own miniatures in a relaxed atmosphere with Mary Cairns, a local artisan from Bray, Co. Dublin.  The classes will run for 6 weeks from November 2nd to December 7th 2011.

Classes will be on Wednesday afternoons from 3.30 to 5pm.

The cost is €60 for the course. Materials will be extra.

Places on the course are limited. Book now to avoid disappointment. Call Nicola on 086 8607068 or email

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Halloween, October 31st 2012

Face Painting and Costume Competition:
Come along to the Museum between 2.30 and 4.30 in your
Halloween costume and get your face painted for ‘Trick or Treating’!
During the month of October try our Halloween Quiz and enter our Pumpkin Competition!
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