If you know anything about Scottish architects and designers then you must have heard the name Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Born in 1868 in Glasgow, Mackintosh enrolled at Glasgow School of Art at the age of 15 and went on to join architectural practice of Honeyman & Keppie as a draughtsman, although it would seem his designs were often too out there for his clients, as some designs were cutting edge of architectural design. As, if you know Mackintosh’s work, you will know it is unique and easily identifiable.
In 1902 the publisher Walter Blackie was looking for an architect to commission a modern ‘villa house’ on a plot of land in Helensburgh and he was an admirer of Mackintosh’s work.
Mackintosh designed every detail of The Hill House along with his designer wife Margaret Macdonald who helped on textile design, making this unique building in the ‘Glasgow Style’ The Hill House would be considered to be Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece.
Having been in the Blackies family for over 50 years, it is now a museum which is curated by the National Trust for Scotland. Although the design was innovative for the time, the Hill House is now absorbing water with the materials and techniques not withstanding a century of wet weather conditions. So, an innovative solution has been made to keep this masterpiece standing – a box, which acts as a shield to save the property. The Hill House Box is a 10-year conservation programme which allows visitors to still access the house, and indeed see even more of the house than ever possible. The Box is a protective steel structure covered in chainmail which features walkways around and over the roof of the house. I doubt you will ever have seen any house from these angles before (making it all that more interesting on a different level)
See this architectural masterpiece that was turned into a home – you can wander through the interior of the house taking in the scale and ambition of the design and wealth of the owner. From the main hall you can visit the library, billiard room, dining room and service rooms. The staircase leads you to the bedrooms. Take note of every detail in this room, as you know Mackintosh did when designing it.
There is also a lovely cafe which serves hot drinks, cakes and food, this is a lovely place to relax and reflect on all you've just saw, and perhaps even get your heart rate back down after walking along the Box.
Entry: £12.50 adult or join National Trust for Scotland on an annual membership for £4.50 a month
Address: The Hill House Upper Colquhoun Street Helensburgh G84 9AJ
Getting there: The Hill House is 23 miles north west of Glasgow, take the A818. You can also take a train from Glasgow to Helensburgh Central (then a 1 ½ mile walk to the House)