• Olivia Hartley

Multi award winning interior of 78 Derngate still inspires over 100 years later

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Like a lot of people, if I look for a day out or something to do on a rainy day, I look for something outside the borders of my home county. We hop in the car and go for a day trip, maybe the Cotswolds, or the train to London, especially if I'm looking for a pop of culture or a hit of design inspiration, So, it is with much blushing that I admit, 16 years after the original opening I finally made a trip to The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House and Galleries at 78 Derngate, Northampton.

Must Visit

Lets just make this clear, I am not about to regurgitate all the splendid detail garnered from our wonderful host on the museums tour, no, no, no! I want you to go see for yourself! So instead, shall hopefully tempt your interior taste buds with a few photo's and a little of what is to be expected...

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, or CRM as I shall refer to him for the sake of my poor fingertips, was a typically revered after death sort of fellow. He was mildly successful in his hometown of Glasgow achieving fame for being ahead of his time as an architect, product designer and interior designer, but as a lot of people who are 'ahead of their time' could often be misunderstood or ridiculed in the press for what is now seen as acts of genius.

As the only house in England where you can see his interior prowess, 78 Derngate is a must visit. It has been painstakingly restored and is testament to the attention to detail that CRM and Bassett-Lowke, the original owner and 'client' originally put into this building. I've honed in on some of that detail in my pics, but it really needs to be seen for yourself to appreciate it fully.

Our tour started with a short video which gave some background information on the Basset-Lowkes, an industrious Northampton couple, typical of the upwardly mobile middle class in that period, and a brief account of the life of CRM to put the house into context.

We were then taken on a tour of the varied rooms inside 78 Derngate, including the petite yet perfectly formed garden with its fantastic vista of the rear of the house by our incredibly knowledgeable tour guide. No detail is missed and the tour is peppered with interesting stories that build a picture of the relationship between designer and client in this project and help you understand the evolution of the house.

Once the tour is complete you are free to look around once more which we took the time to do and took photo's (which is allowed provided you don't use a flash). Folllowing that, spend some time in the museum and gallery area next door (the two areas are directly linked) and read in depth about the Bassett-Lowkes rise in society and CRM's unfortunately quite impoverished end, and see for yourself other preserved artefacts such as the original Gaslight designed by CRM himself.

For the cost of a Cappucino and Croissant (Approx £7 at time of writing) you get the tour, house entrance, gallery entrance, and guess what...the ticket lasts 12 months! Again, slightly embarrassed I haven't done this earlier, especially as I used to live in Northampton. Anyway, I'm now off to recreate the amazing black and white stripes in my own en-suite. It will definitely leave an impression whether you are a fan or not, so go see for yourself this impressive piece of interiors history and feel free to leave comments about your experience here.

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