Distance from London to Windsor Castle
Queen Mary's Doll House, now on permanent display at Windsor Castle, was a gift to Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II's grandmother, who was fond of miniatures. The four-storey Palladian mansion, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, architect of New Delhi, was never intended to be played with. Instead, it was meant to demonstrate the best of British craftsmanship and modern design, circa 1924.
All the top artists and most fashionable designers of the period contributed to the doll house.
The dining table is set with silver plates, the Queen's bathroom has an alabaster tub with golden taps and there is even a strongroom with tiny copies of the Crown Jewels.
France and MarianneDon't miss the display cases in the corridor next to the doll house. They contain a pair of dolls, France and Marianne, that were given to Princess Elizabeth and her little sister Margaret Rose, by the French government in 1938. The exhibit contains a selection of the wardrobes made for the dolls by all the leading French designers of the day. Hermès, Jean Patou, Louis Vuitton, Worth, Lanvin and many others made clothing for the dolls. The dolls have fur capes and - Barbie eat your heart out - each has a necklace and bracelet fashioned by Cartier.
Top Tip: Queen Mary's Doll House is very popular. Only a few people at a time are allowed in to see it, so the wait can be very long. Even on a school day in autumn, I waited about 20 minutes to get in. Check the signs posted along the queue that count off the time remaining in line in 15 minute increments.
It is worth the wait, but bring along a jacket as the entrance on the North Terrace is one of the highest spots around and can get windy and cold.
The Drawings GalleryIt's easy to miss the Drawings Gallery on your way through the Undercroft of Windsor Castle to the flashier exhibits beyond. Don't. The room is used for frequently changing temporary displays from the Royal Collection and they are always memorable.
The Royal Library, for example, holds 600 drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, the largest Da Vinci collection in the world. At any given time, six are exhibited. Until April 2010, as part of Henry VIII: a 500th Anniversary Exhibition, a series of Holbein sketches of the Tudor court is featured in the gallery. And, on the day that I visited, works to see included The Angel of the Annunciation drawn around 1638 by Guercino and an early 18th century drawing by Canaletto, The Piazzetta Looking South, one of the few existing drawings done on the spot by this artist.