Hills House

Sneak Peak at the National Trust of Scotland Property

Hill House in Helensburgh, Scotland, is one of Charles and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's most famous works, probably second only to the Glasgow School of Art. It was designed and built for the publisher Walter Blackie in 1902 – 1904. Currently National Trust of Scotland look after the property. I am passionate about Mackintosh’s work and was lucky to visit the house on a special evening event to experience the secret corners like never seen before. It’s truly a dream come true.

The uniform and grayish exterior treatment of the building blends in with the cold cloudy sky of Scotland. The completely asymmetrical construction forms different roof levels and shapes.

To protect the Hill House, National Trust of Scotland have embarked on a pioneering conservation programme. The first stage has seen the construction of the Hill House Box, a protective steel frame structure covered in a chainmail mesh designed to protect the house from the rain. This will allow the walls to dry and prevent further damage. I cannot stress enough how impressed I am with the work they do to conserve our beautiful Scotland therefore I would encourage anyone to get a membership to protect our unique heritage.

For those with a head for heights, venture onto the walkway over the roof to see the house in a unique angles. You can enjoy the spectacular views of Helensburgh and the surrounding area.

The mansion combined the Edwardian period’s traditional ‘femininity’ of an intimate, inside space, with the ‘masculinity’ of the exterior public world, both uncommonly used throughout the interior of the building.

The light and airy drawing room features the famous rose design and the gesso panel of the sleeping princess. It was lovely to hear music throughout the house played by pianist Bill Kean.

The Sleeping Princess - Artwork by Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh

This piece of art is fixed into the wall and forms part of the house..

Each room has a unique fireplace. The one in the living room is in my opinion the most ornate. Look at the details and design.

Me trying to replicate this photo by Mrs Blackie - I would not sit on the chair of course for preservation purposes.

Tip

Look for original chairs designed by Mackintosh himself throughout the house. All carefully positioned to add the design of the house.

Copies of Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's silk embroidered hangings can be seen at each side of the bed in the main bedroom.

For one night only, the original fabric curtains was on display. I would love to find copies of this for my spare bedroom.

Squares and rectangles of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's designs can been seen everywhere in the dark pine hallway of the Hill House.

Mackintosh used different materials, colours and lighting, when necessary to perform a full experiential transition from one point to another. All in such an elegant and well planned manner, that with the absence of one the other would mar.

The clock is fixed and part of the house. Shadows from the light fixtures change throughout the day with lighting - casting a different shadow on different walls.

This is the Attic/Garret and not usually open to public. I was lucky enough to be able to visit and discover the hidden treasures of the house. This space was used as a gymnastic and dark room for photography throughout history.

A priceless treasure - a graffiti carved on the walls found hidden in the attic.

Other unseen treasures included original architect drawings of the house by Mackintosh himself.

Exclusive preview of the school room with original Mackintosh designed items

If there was a house that was alive and in harmony both internally and externally. I would say this is it. “Hill House is a living art, changing moods inside with the landscape outside, you have to visit to listen to its heart beat”.

I thought it would be appropriate to end the story by showing you the last piece of work by Mackintosh. The Blackie’s poetically bought both his first piece of work (a piece of furniture) and last piece of work both found in the house now.

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