The Astolat Castle dollhouse is a modern recreation of a palatial castle which took more than thirteen years to complete. This miniature masterpiece was the handiwork of Elaine Diehl, a well known miniaturist who resides in Colorado. The castle dollhouse is now owned by Dr. Michael Freeman and his wife Lois Freeman who have loaned the resplendent miniature to the Nassau County Museum of Art at the Tee Ridder Miniatures Museum where it was on display from 2005 until recently. It is unclear where the dollhouse is on view currently but miniature lovers can see the dollhouse at a variety of websites like this video.
Currently appraised at more than $1.1 million, the Astolat Castle Dollhouse stands nine feet tall, weighs in at more than 600 pounds and the dollhouse and all the miniatures are completely handmade. The inspiration for the dollhouse according to creator Elaine Diehl was Idylls of the King, a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson. Idylls of the King is composed of twelve narrative poems about King Arthur and his love Guinevere.
The amazing miniature castle has 29 rooms and seven floors complete with staircases, parquet floors, fireplaces, a wine cellar, a wizards tower, music room, library, grand ballroom, an an armory. The scale of detail in each room of the dollhouse makes it hard to identify it as a miniature when looking at photographs of the rooms because the interior décoration and the furnishings are so realistic. The dollhouse furniture and accessories total more than 10,000 pieces some of which were created by some of the top miniaturists in the world including Warren Dick, Pete Acquisto, George Becher, Frank Balestrieri, and Laurel Coulon. The exterior of the castle which is made of hand created faux carved stone took over a year to construct. The dolls who take up residence at the castle are also works of art and include Ladys in Waiting, a Wizard, and illlustrious knights in armor. The dollhouse construction is also unusual from most dollhouses in that the design allows for 360 degree viewing. The lighting is also of note as the electric lighting provides both day and nightime settings. The scale is 1:12, the most popular scale for dollhouses.
Diehl did not restrict the interior décor to simply baronial style but provided an eclectic approach to the design including Asian, Tudor, Spanish, English and Victorian decorating touches. In creating the castle, Diehl approached the construction and design with a sense of fun. In an interview with the Courier of Prescott, Arizona, Diehl stated, “ It’s been a wonderful hobby, I used to not be able to wait to get home from work so I could play. The hours slipped by so easily, I would look at my watch and it would be three in the morning. With this hobby, you can be in control of your own little world. In real life, you don’t have all those choices available to you.”
Note: While not everyone can devote thirteen years of their life to the creation of a dollhouse or have the wherewithal to commission miniature works from world renowned miniaturist, it is still possible to create a dollhouse or miniature castle that both children and adults will enjoy and will be handed down generation to generation. To get started check out the Magical Dollhouse where you can choose from small cottages like the Storybook Cottage Dollhouse Kit or the English Tudor Mansion Harrison Dollhouse Kit, or the Victorian Garfield Dollhouse Kit.