78 Derngate

A couple of weeks ago I had to drive down to Hertfordshire on a Sunday as zi was working down there on the Monday. An 8 o’clock start meant a stay over on Sunday evening. Rather than just belt all the way down the Motorway I decided to break the journey, pulling off the M1 at Northampton, with a view to visiting 78 Derngate, a house where the interior had been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

IMG_3564.jpg

The house was owned by a local industrialist, W J Bassett-Lowke a man of Progressive ideals, Fabian politics (he knew G B Shaw who visited the house and stayed in the guest bedroom), had, for the time (the early 20th Century), rather modern tastes.

One of a row of Georgian houses in the centre of Northampton, Bassett-Lowke’s father  bought the relatively small house for him in 1916 when he got married. Being right in the middle of WWI it wasn’t possible to build a new house (which I guess he would have preferred) so he set about getting it modified so it would be more in line with his Modernist inclinations and he hired Mackintosh, who was living in Chelsea at the time, to help with the interior design.

por_BasLowk

The Bassett-Lowkes lived in the house 1926 when they moved to a newly built Modernist home designed by Peter Behrens. It passed through several owners until 1964 when it was bought by Northampton High School for Girls who initially used it for offices and then later as classrooms.   When the school decided to sell off the house it was bought by Northampton Borough Council. A Trust was formed who restored the house and it was opened to the public at the end of 2003. The house itself is quite small so the Trust has also bought No’s 80 and 82 which houses the reception desk,  gift shop, museum, restaurant, art galleries, meeting rooms and offices.

Although visitors can explore the house and garden on their own, there are regular guided tours, which take just over an hour, and it’s well worth joining one. I arrived about 45 minutes before the next tour was due to start so I spent some time looking around the small garden (it was a fine, sunny, autumn afternoon), the museum and the galleries where there were exhibitions of works by a local artist, Roy Holding, and the Northamptonshire Guild of Designer Craftsmen. The guided tour, which started with a short video, was led by a knowledgeable volunteer and was excellent. After the tour I had about 45 minutes left to have a quick look round on my own to take a closer look at the rooms and furnishings.

Bassett-Lowke had a number of structural changes made to the house. A rectangular extension was added at the back to enlarge the kitchen and the dining room and creating balconies for the two bedrooms. It isn’t clear how much of these changes (and, indeed the décor) Mackintosh designed.

IMG_3497.jpg

Mackintosh was hired during a period when his architectural and design work had largely dried up, so he must have welcomed the commission.  Bassett-Lowke must have been a difficult client to work for, though. He had had some architectural training and had his own definite ideas about what he wanted and certainly didn’t leave mackintosh to get on with it, organising the work himself. His wife, who it seems had more conventional tastes, didn’t get much of a look in! But  Mackintosh’s touch is clearly evident throughout the house. The décor is a little different  to his earlier work, being more angular and almost prefiguring what became known as “Art Deco” style.

After watching the video which covered the history of the house and an overview of the interior,  the tour started in the garden. We could see the rear elevation which looked very Modernist and nothing like a Georgian property.

This planter looks very “Mackintosh”, but it’s not certain he designed it.

IMG_3500.jpg

Moving inside the house, first stop was the kitchen. No Mackintosh touches here but quite modern for the early 20th century. Bassett-Lowke was very keen on having all the latest electrical gadgets including an electric kettle and other appliances, many which had to be specially imported.

IMG_3503.jpgimg_3516.jpg

The kitchen would have been the domain of Lotte, the Bassett-Lowkes’ servant. She was Austrian so an “enemy alien” during the war, so I don’t know how they managed to keep her employed.

Moving upstairs to the dining room

IMG_3505.jpg

Mackintosh’s main contribution to this room was the walnut cabinets to either side of the fireplace.

IMG_3558.jpg

Across the stairwell and we were in the living room (the house is only two rooms wide)

IMG_3554.jpg

IMG_3520.jpg

This screen beside the staircase is probably Mackintosh’s “tour de force”.

IMG_3556.jpg

IMG_3526.jpg

He designed the décor, an angular pattern representing trees, which is predominantly black, making the room rather dark.

IMG_3522.jpg

Mrs Bassett-Lowke did not like it so it was changed to a much lighter design, which was shown in a display on one of the rooms on the top floor of the house

IMG_3537.jpg

Up another floor and into the main bedroom. There wasn’t much furnishing in here.

IMG_3530.jpg

but the guest bedroom on the next floor has been recreated.  This is where G B slept when he stayed in the house. The striped décor is very striking and must have looked so radically different in 1917. It could easily have been designed in modern times.

IMG_3543.jpg

Mrs Bassett-Lowke did not like it at all.

IMG_3541.jpg

IMG_3544.jpg

Across the corridor the bathroom had all the mod cons for the time

IMG_3546.jpg

I spent almost 3 hours in the house, much longer than I expected. It was certainly well worth the diversion!

Advertisements

Whitby houses

Until the 19th Century, Whitby it was a small fishing port with few houses. But as shipbuilding and other industries as well as tourism took hold the town began to develop. Not surprisingly, then, many of the buildings in the older parts of town are from the Georgian period. These are a few examples of Georgian style houses we spotted around the town.

IMG_1622

IMG_1667

IMG_1649

IMG_1671

Some of them rather grand

IMG_1669

IMG_1765

including Whitehall, next door to our holiday home

P7231820

The grandest buildings, such as the Bay Royal Hotel and Royal Crescent, are up on the top of the West Cliff. It’s the only historic area we didn’t really explore during our visit so no photos!

There were some examples of earlier buildings scattered around the town

IMG_1670

IMG_1665

IMG_1707

The Tudor ‘Manor House’ of Bagdale Hall on the west side of the river is one of the oldest buildings in the town. It’s been restored and converted to a hotel and restaurant.

IMG_1793

We spotted this interesting house on Church Street on the East side of the river. A little piece of Amsterdam in East Yorkshire!

IMG_1626

We speculated as to whether the original owner was from the Netherlands or had spent some time there.

Howden

DSC02230

After I’d had a look around the Minster in Howden, I decided to have a mooch around the town starting in the town square, which is immediately in front of the east end of the Minster.

DSC02206

It was a thriving town in medieval times with a connection to the Bishops of Durham. They would stay in the town when travelling down to London and had a palace built here. The remains, the Bishop’s Manor, is just off the market square and around the corner from the Minster .

DSC02239

DSC02186

Originally there was a complex range of buildings, inside an irregular walled courtyard. But the majority of these buildings were demolished in the late 16th century. Nevertheless the remaining structure is quite impressive for a small town.

The Minister towers over the buildings in the town centre

DSC02233

The old streets are narrow and twisty, probably reflecting their medieval origin.

DSC02207

DSC02213

but many of the buildings are Georgian town houses built for professional men and tradesmen

DSC02220

DSC02231

DSC02236

With a few grand houses

DSC02219

This is the town’s war memorial. An ornate Gothic monument.

DSC02210

During the First World War an airship station was built just to the north of the town, near Spaldington. The airships based here provided protection for ports and shipping along the east coast. After the war the station was closed but the hangers were converted into a manufacturing facility for airships including the R100, designed by Sir Barnes Wallis (who later designed the Vickers Wellington bomber invented the “bouncing bomb” used by the Dambusters).  The author Nevil Shute Norway (better known as Nevil Shute) was part of the team that created the R100 and lived in the town.

DSC02185

Beverley

DSC02164

I’m working in East Yorkshire this week, staying in Goole. I had an early start on Monday so had booked to stay over on Sunday evening. Sunday looked a promising day and I didn’t fancy being stuck in front of the telly watching the Wimbledon men’s final (I don’t get tennis I’m afraid) so I decided to drive over the Pennines early afternoon and find something to do. The small, historic town of Beverley is about 30 minutes further east from Goole and as I’ve never been there before (only seen it signposted off the motorway when driving over to Hull) I decided it might be a good bet to keep me occupied. I wasn’t wrong.

The town grew up around a monastery that was founded at the beginning of the 8th Century and there’s been a church here ever since. Today the town’s main attraction is the Minster which was built between 1220 and around 1420.

DSC02089

Although it has the size and grandeur of a cathedral, it isn’t the seat of a Bishop, and only has the status of a Parish Church.

DSC02161

The town has an attractive shopping street. Unfortunately it is mainly populated by the main high street chains. There were plenty of pubs and places to eat – a reflection of it being a tourist destination.

DSC02146

Most of the buildings in the town centre are Georgian and Victorian but there are some traces of the town’s medieval heritage. The North Bar is one of them.

DSC02126

It’s the last remaining gateway that protected the entrance to the town and at one time had  a drawbridge. There were originally five but the other four are long gone.

A short distance away is another Medieval Gothic church, St Mary’s. Like the Minster, a fine example of Gothic architecture. It dates from the 12th century and so predates the minster. It underwent a major restoration between 1844 and 1876 under the successive supervision of Augustus Welby Pugin, his son E. Welby Pugin, and Sir Gilbert Scott. So it’s appearance probably reflects the Victorian take on Gothic like many other churches (including our own Wigan Parish church)

DSC02122

There’s a medieval building more or less opposite St Mary’s – now converted into an up-market shopping centre

DSC02130

Lot’s of attractive Georgian buildings around the town.

DSC02129

DSC02177

DSC02138

DSC02152

DSC02156

DSC02132

DSC02154

There are also examples of other architectural styles. This is the local library built in the early 20th Century. I’d probably describe it as Edwardian Baroque

DSC02155

The old Corn Exchange, from the same period.

DSC02143

And an Art Deco style façade in amongst the Georgian buildings on the corner of the Saturday Market and main shopping street, Toll Gavel.

DSC02145

An interesting town, well worth the diversion (as the Michelin Guide would put it). It rather reminded me of a smaller scale version of York, minus the medieval walls.

Dublin Fanlights

DSC01434

Georgian houses in Dublin are relatively plain with little ornamentation. Typically, the front is fairly plain brickwork, only broken up by long windows. In these houses, the main decorative feature tends to be the door and the semi-circular fan-light, which present an opportunity for some individuality.

Fanlights are, as the name implies fan-shaped windows above the front door which illuminate an otherwise dark hallway. In Georgian times, natural light, candles and oil
lamps were the only means of lighting the darker parts of houses, such as the hallways. They’re both a functional and a decorative feature and in Dublin there are many different designs.

During my latest visit to the city, due to the weather I didn’t spend much time wandering around the streets but even a short walk in the streets to the south of the Lifffey takes you past plenty of Georgian squares and streets. I spotted this rather unusual example near to the RHA Gallery.

DSC01434

During a relatively short walk, I snapped a number of other examples – all different.

This is a relatively simple example

DSC01430

A much bigger window with a more complex pattern

DSC01433

This one is a little like a spider’s web

DSC01431

This one is really fancy

DSC01448

This one has a glass box built into it which would hold a lamp or candle to light the outside of the house

DSC01432

DSC01432

As does this one – a grander version

DSC01435

Killyleagh

DSC00030

Killyleagh is a small town on the south west shore of Strangford Lough. It’s Irish name is Cill Ó Laoch, meaning “church of the descendants of Laoch.

The top of the main street is dominated by a castle which, with it’s fairytale towers, looks as if it’s been transplanted from the Loire Valley. It’s believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country, with parts dating back to 1180. It only acquired its current look in the 1850s when the turrets were added. I got a decent shot of the gatehouse and curtain wall, but the keep was undergoing renovation

DSC00024

So here’s a picture from Wikipedia.

By David Hawgood, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14339108

It is a private family home owned and occupied by the Hamilton family since the 17th century Plantation of Ulster. You can peek through the gate but can’t go inside, which is fair enough.

We were staying in the Dufferin Coaching Inn, at the top of the main street near the castle. An interesting place, it had originally been the local branch of the Ulster Bank and those premises had been combined with an adjoining shop to create the B&B..

DSC00037

We had a spacious, comfortable, well equipped room on the front. There was a whirlpool bath and bath robes and slippers provided.

1438590451215.jpeg

The Coaching Inn didn’t serve evening meals so the first night we had a walk into the town to check out a restaurant recommended by our host. A short walk took us to the shores of the Lough. We were pleasantly surprised by the fantastic views over the water

DSC00001

DSC00002

DSC00008

DSC00011

There isn’t a lot of choice of places to eat in the town so we decided to try our luck at the Smuggler’s table.

DSC00019

It didn’t look that fancy from the outside

DSC00018

But the food was outstanding and extremely good value.

I had Strangford Lough mussels in a spicy sauce to start

DSC00013

A light version of fish pie which was more like a creamy fish stew

DSC00014

finishing off with a coffee and a mango panacotta

DSC00017

Highly recommended.

DSC00016

After the meal we had a short walk along the shore before turning in.

DSC00020

The next morning we decided to take a look around the town. Originally it would have been a small fishing and agricultural centre with a small harbour. It grew and developed when a linen mill opened in the town in 1852.

There were a lot of older houses around the town, mainly Georgian in style and many of them had been renovated or were in the process of being renovated, frequently painted in bright colours.

DSC00036

DSC00025

DSC00027

DSC00028

This is a row of linen workers’ cottages on the road leading to the old mill.

DSC00035

There had been some new development on the harbour, but the buildings had been designed to complement their surroundings.

DSC00032

There’s a yacht club based on the lough here too.

DSC00033

The sea front is owned by the National Trust which will hopefully ensure that inappropriate development doesn’t take place. The town is something of a hidden gem and deserves to be better known.

Beningborough Hall

DSC08489

Last weekend we decided we’d take a break and go up to the North East to visit family, combining the trip with some tourism and a hill walk. On Saturday, we took a short detour off our route to visit Beningborough Hall, a National Trust property a few miles north of York. The hall was was built for a York landowner, John Bourchier III to replace his family’s modest Elizabethan manor. It was completed in 1716 this year is its 300th birthday.

The estate passed to the Dawnay family in 1827 (distant relatives of the Bourchiers). In 1916 it was bought purchased by the Count and Countess of Chesterfield. During the Second World War Beningbrough was used to house airmen from the bomber squadrons at nearby Linton-on-Ouse. Lady Chesterfield returned in 1947 and lived on alone in the house until her death in 1957 and in June 1958 the estate was passed on to the National Trust in lieu of death duties.

George I came to the throne in1714, two years before the house was completed, so it would be true to say that it is a Georgian mansion, but it is more ornate than the typical great Palladian houses associated with this period of history.The NT describe it as Italianate Baroque, although in a restrained English variation of the flamboyant, Catholic, style found in mainland Europe.

DSC08523

The interior layout was very similar to that of Castletown, the first Palladian mansion in Ireland that I visited last year.

There was the grand, double story entrance hall

DSC08507

and interconnected rooms with doors aligned so that when open you could see along the entire length of the house.

DSC08500

DSC08501

DSC08495

The rooms were very ornate

DSC08497

and there were very grand and tall four poster beds in the bedrooms

DSC08493 (2)

I liked the displays and installations that the NT had set out in various rooms linked to the history of the house.

This display of tea cups in the drawing room celebrated the Dawnay family connection to Earl Grey. There’s probably at least two days worth of tea cups based on my personal consumption!

DSC08496

The horse racing tags in the fireplace below the portrait of Lady Chesterfield celebrate her interest in the sport. There are several racecourses nearby.

DSC08503 

The NT work in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and the hall has oer 120 18th-century portraits on display throughout the house. And on he top floor there are seven interpretation galleries featuring an exhibition – ‘Making Faces: 18th century Style’

They also host temporary exhibitions. Currently here’s a small display of portraits of noted natives of Yorkshire, including this one of Alan Bennett.

DSC08502 (2)

In an outbuilding there’s a recreation of a Victorian laundry.

DSC08514

The laundresses wouldn’t have had a easy life, even if they did have a primitive washing machine.

DSC08508

DSC08510

Afterwards we went out into the sunshine to explore the gardens. There are six acres of immaculate gardens – with lawns, formal garden areas, and a Walled Kitchen Garden

DSC08516

DSC08491

Given the time of year there were lots of colourful tulips in full bloom.

DSC08517

DSC08480

DSC08481

DSC08519

DSC08518

I rather liked this tea pot. A good size for me! Alas, it wouldn’t be practical – it would leak quite badly!

DSC08474

We spent a good half day exploring, longer than we expected. An enjoyable visit and “well worth a detour”, as they would say in the Michelin Guide.