What is a Wendy House and where did the name originate?
A Wendy house is, originally, a small play house for children. The original was built for Wendy Darling in JM Barrie's play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.Wendy was shot by the Lost Boy Tootles after arriving in Neverland, so Peter Pan and the Lost Boys built a small house around her where she had fallen. It was inspired by the wash-house behind his childhood home in Kirriemuir and first appeared in story form in The Little White Bird in which fairies build a house around Mamie Mannering — the prototype for Wendy — so protecting her from the cold.
A prop house was created by JM Barrie for the first stage production of the play in 1904. It was constructed like a tent so that it could be erected quickly during a song which Wendy starts with
"I wish I had a darling house / The littlest ever seen, / With funny little red walls / And roof of mossy green."
John Darling's hat was used as a chimney and a slipper was used as a door knocker. Toy manufacturers soon created replicas of the stage Wendy house which then became a standard toy found in British garden since then.
In Australia cubby houses (or colloquially "cubby" or "cubbies") were historically built by children (with perhaps some help from older persons) from found or scrap materials often in out-of-the-way places in the garden or in wasteground areas. They were by their nature impermanent structures often lasting for a season or two or just for a school holiday. Latterly however, with safety concerns becoming more of a focus and children playing less frequently outside of the family home's garden, construction has been more formalised with kits and even fully-built units being available commercially.
The phrase is virtually unknown in most of the U.S., where a backyard children's play structure is much more likely to be called a play house, a clubhouse or, if in a tree, treehouse.
In South Africa a Wendy house is mostly a pre-fabricated timber structure which is erected in the garden. A Wendy house has many uses and it is no longer restricted to a play room for children. With a little imagination customised touches can be added to create something unique.
If you would like to have your own Wendy House in your garden, ask A & H Wendy Houses for a quote.