Looking Back at the History of Cubby Houses

The history of cubby houses, also known as a playhouse or Wendy house, varies depending on where you live. But there is one thing which is guaranteed – they’re so much fun to play in! Today we take you on a journey to discover more about the origins and traditions of cubby houses!

 Exploring the History of Cubby Houses 

Many historical records agree that the very first cubby house was created for the play Peter Pan. In 1904, JM Barrie designed the very first Wendy house for Wendy Darling.  Built around Wendy to keep her safe after she was shot by a Lost Boy in Neverland, Peter Pan and his Lost Boys wanted to keep her safe. 

The idea for the cubby house originated from the little white shed located behind JM Barrie’s house where he grew up. Built to look like a tent, it was erected around Wendy while she sang, “ I wish I had a darling house, the littlest ever seen. With funny little red walls and roof of mossy green.”

While built from wood traditionally, a cubby house can be built from many different materials, including the fabric we use with ours! Around the world, the very first cubby house has since been the inspiration for many wonderful creations and hours of fun. Next we’ll look into the history of cubby houses and their uses around the world.

Use & History of Cubby Houses around the World 

From simple small sheds built with scrap materials in Australia, to imitation homes in the backyards of English aristocrats, through to the $5000 cubby house of Queensland dress designer’s daughter, there really is no ‘standard’ cubby house. Let’s take a look at the history and use of cubby houses around the world:

  • Australia – cubby houses, or cubbies, were traditionally built by kids using whatever scrap materials they could find. Sticks, old roofing iron, and wooden planks were common resources. Built in the garden, they were used as a place where kids could escape from life and be somewhere that was theirs alone. However, the unsafe nature of these cubbies led to parents looking for a safer solution, like a Cubbytime cubby house!
  • America – called a clubhouse, once again they were traditionally built of wood, but in such a way that they mirrored the main house. 
  • England – here you’ll find traditional Wendy houses were built from stone and were miniature imitations of great stately homes. Used to ‘play house’ in, they were often filled with small furniture items.

Here in New Zealand, while we did not follow the tradition of English stone Wendy houses, we were kind of a mixture of the DIY Australia and American clubhouse put together. But as time passed, it became clear that due to our weather, an inside solution was needed. That’s when Nat realised that other parents were also looking for a portable and easy to build fabric cubby house solution – and Cubbytime was born! 

As well as pre-made and custom-designed fabric cubbies available, we also have a pattern you can use to sew your own cubby at home – perfect for the DIY lover and those to whom postage isn’t a practical option. Visit our fabric cubby shop today.