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You are in: Northamptonshire » A Sense Of Place

February 2004
78 Derngate
An early photo of 78 Derngate

His designs are famous the world over.

Now the Northampton house designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been painstakingly restored.

Have your say on 78 Derngate

78 Derngate photo gallery

Mackintosh at the Glasgow School of Art

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society

Charles Rennie Mackintosh biography

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Charles Rennie Macintosh
(1868 - 1928) Mackintosh was one of the leading exponents of the Art Nouveau style during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a designer, artist and architect and produced textiles, furniture and metalwork. Most of his surviving work can be seen in his home town of Glasgow, but Northampton has the highly-prized 78 Derngate, which Mackintosh remodelled for its owner. Although he wasn't revered in the UK during his own lifetime, Mackintosh is now often referred to as Scotland's greatest 20th century architect and designer.


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The black and white picture above is an early photo of 78 Derngate, Northampton - a house that has for years, excited architects, historians, artists and designers.

The front of 78 Derngate
From outside, 78 Derngate looks very ordinary

With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, 78 Derngate has now been restored to its former glory and reopened to the public.

"This house is very important architecturally," says its curator Sylvia Pinches.

"Charles Rennie Mackintosh is now regarded as one of the chief architects of the early 20th Century and this is the last extant piece of his work and it's a complete piece of interior design."

Lots of fizz

78 Derngate was the only Mackintosh domestic commission outside of Scotland.

Sylvia Pinches
Sylvia Pinches, curator

He was invited to remodel the Georgian house by the renowned model-maker Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke in time for his wedding in 1917.

"Bassett-Lowke was a man of great energy," says Sylvia. "He had lots of interests, lots of fizz - he was always rushing around.

" He was very concerned with modernity and everything being efficient and speedy. He didn't want anything in his house that was older than himself and he spotted in Mackintosh that classic cutting-edge talent."

Ahead of its time

Playwright George Bernard Shaw saw stripes before his eyes in this bedroom

According to Sylvia, Mackintosh's designs for 78 Derngate were ten years ahead of their time: "It's a very modern house. If people look at some of the interior here, they say it's a 1920s house but it was done in the 1910s."

The house was also modern in many other ways: It had central heating, indoor plumbing and lots of electrical gadgets in the kitchen.

Mackintosh's initial design included a striking black room: the hall-lounge, with a yellow-stencilled wallpaper motif of inverted triangles.

Another tour de force was the guest bedroom decoration of bold ultramarine, black and white stripes. The playwright George Bernard Shaw stayed there.

"Some rooms don't look out of place now, and it's nearly 90-years-old," says Sylvia.

Also see:
• 78 Derngate opening and booking info
• Have your say on 78 Derngate
• 78 Derngate photo gallery


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