Fairy Houses, in the City and in the Wild


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I’m an avid gardener and a romantic dreamer. From my earliest memories I’ve been enthralled by fairy tales and a collector of similar stories. As such, I feel inspired to share the following actual encounters…

Last month, I fulfilled a long-held desire. For my birthday earlier this year, my son Liam announced we’d be going to the Annual Portsmouth (NH) Fairy House Tour.  It’s the largest event of this kind in the world with over 250 displays! Since its inception 15 years ago, I’ve wanted to attend and each year was unable to for one reason or another. This was the year!

City Fairy Domiciles

Liam, Genevieve and Calvin, his children/my grandchildren, and I arrived at the waterfront area on a perfect end-of-summer day; warm and sunny with a slight breeze. We checked in at Strawbery Banke, grabbed our picnic basket and found a bench in Prescott Park, across the street among the gardens along the harbor. After a peaceful repast, we joined a dance troupe on-stage for some fairy dancing, then officially began our fairy house tour.

Liam Dancing with the Children on the Stage at Prescott Park

Calvin and Genevieve Are Drawn to Water…

Calvin Enthusiastically Explores the Fountain

We followed the map provided with our tickets and created our own  self-guided journey at our own pace. The tickets also included tours of Strawbery Banke. We were able to absorb some Seacoast NH history while hunting for evidence of tiny fantastical creatures among the centuries-old buildings, gardens and grounds.

Just a Few of the Amazing Fairy Structures

The Fairy Houses covered every imaginable building style, in an enormous variety of natural materials. Rustic, Victorian, Colonial, modern and other designs were festured. Fairy cabins, cottages, mansions and resorts were lovingly created from branches, bark, flowers, shells, seaweed, leaves, stones, sea glass, sand dollars and many other materials.

Some structures were displayed in plain sight along the pathways and others were cleverly disguised and camouflaged so that we had the ‘wonder of discovery’ when we eventually spied them.

Some Dwellings Actually Resembled Other Things Altogether!  Genevieve Gets her Wings

The children seemed thrilled with the variety of tiny buildings and the associated activities and events. I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the delightful gardens of Strawbery Banke, Prescott Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. The endless variety of plantings, fountains and sculptures were an added enhancement. It was especially wondrous to see the delight of Calvin and Genevieve and all the other children on the tour (and the adults too!)

Genevieve ‘Discovers’ one of the Tiny Fairy Houses

All my senses were on fire and my imagination was returned to the innocence of childhood, believing anything was possible and suspecting that every colorful dragonfly and butterfly that flitted and darted by, was a sprite or nymph, spying on us as we ogled their dwellings!

Just a Few of the Marvelous Fairy Houses on the Tour

We wandered through Strawbery Banke exploring the dozens and dozens of fairy homes, castles and playgrounds. We wound our way along wooded paths and neighboring gardens, some not usually accessible to the public; discovering fairy dwellings of every imaginable description. It was truly a day of magic and wonder.

This Enchanting Wee Creature was Spotted on one of the Garden Paths

Participants were really into the ambiance, wearing garden dresses, wings, antennae and other fairy fantasy garb. There were opportunities to build our own tiny structures from raw materials provided and although we spent hours exploring; I’m sure we did not see all the offerings before the day got away from us. There’s always next year!

P.S. For a peak at my own Fairy House, please see the blog: Dollhouses 3, What Inspires Collectors and Creators.

Altogether, a wonderful day was spent in enchanting company and surroundings. It was the fulfillment of a long-held wish and a return to the wonder of childhood. It also prepared me for the following experience:

Forest Sprite Abodes

Having so recently had my eyes re-opened to the possibility of fairies living among us in dwellings built of endless natural material, appropriate to their settings, I made a very interesting discovery earlier this month.

I was Unable to Resist the Seemingly Boundless Photo Opportunities Here

As I have seen no prior documentation of this phenomenon, I will share it with you as an original discovery and invite you to re-discover it for yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband Pat and I escaped to North Conway (NH) for a few days at the height of the White Mountain foliage season. That combination in itself would have been wondrous enough, but another bit of magic was revealed to me while we were there.

Even the Light Along the Trail was Magical

A few days into our trip, on a drive to explore some hitherto unexplored areas, we noticed a sign for Diana’s Baths, not far from Cathedral Ledge. Intrigued, we stopped and found a set of leisurely hiking trails which we promptly meandered along.  Almost immediately, I was struck by the quality of early morning light filtering through the moss-covered and autumn-clad trees surrounding us.

Reflections in a Pool we Passed By

Soon, my attention was drawn to the clarity of detail in individual colorful leaves lying on the ground or floating in streams we crossed on our way to ‘the baths’. Then the shadows of the trees towering above us and the musical sound of water running in the many nearby rivulets captured my imagination.





A Subtle Trail Marker with Ancient Runes

Soon, the presence of numerous colorful dragonflies in our midst, alerted me to the presence of fairies nearby. And sure enough; as I looked closer, I recognized the disguised dwellings of woodland nymphs. As we walked along our trail, ascending gently toward the destination of the baths; these tiny homes became more and more apparent to my trained and newly reopened eyes. I captured some of these magical places on film to share with you.

Fairy Burrows, in Tree Trunks and Below Ground, were Everywhere

When we arrived at the trails namesake; Dianna’s Baths, we emerged into full sunshine. There a wide section of Lucy Brook opened into a series of falls and pools, running over stones smoothed by eons of water coursing down.

Part of an Old Mill Foundation Beside Lucy Brook

There were the barely discernible traces of an old mill off to one side, but otherwise, the site seemed primeval in the dewy early morning autumn air, still a bit crisp and enticing.

The Baths, Actually a Series of Fairy Pools, were Enchanting

Gently dappled color dipped toward the water, as softly rounded rocks and eerily exposed twisted roots met at the edges, forming a collage of nature in transition.

Hard Not to Imagine Ancient Serpent Battles Here

Upon return to the trail, we discovered more and more of the elusive (to the uninformed pixie seeker) fairy homes. This short and easy hike, held a lot of magic for anyone willing to look. I would highly recommend it if you are in the area, and even if not, it would be worth the effort to find it. Especially now that you are ‘in the know’ about the fairy inhabitants here…

Spaces beneath small spillways in a remote woodland stream provide concealed entryways to the homes that no self-respecting water sprite could help but covet!

It’s a well-known fact that woods’ sprites and others dwelling in natural habitats and wild places, choose locations of great beauty to make their homes. This way, casual observers will be distracted by the surroundings and not notice their homes. Fortunately, I am not a casual observer!

Once aware, and attuned to the slightest of movements out of the corner of your eye, those small spaces between the roots of trees and beneath tree trunks take on new meaning… The subtle depressions in worn boulders often lead to cracks only a fairy could make into a home.

Obviously an Archway to a Fairy Kingdom…

Ob Now that my eyes have adjusted and become attuned to these shelters, I anticipate many more sightings in the future!