Travel Review: Helensburgh, Scotland

Hill House, Helensburgh
Hill House, Helensburgh
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Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh died at a relatively young age. But the legacy he left behind lives on.

Much of his distinctive artwork has been copied as Mackintosh died without leaving any family to protect his name and create a copyright.

Macintosh furniture

Macintosh furniture

But there is no disputing the real deal and a visit to Hill House, which perches overlooking the beautiful town of Helensburgh in Scotland, unravels much of his finest work.

Cared for by The National Trust for Scotland, this is said to be Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation. Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie commissioned Mackintosh to build the property in 1902 and that included much of the furniture too.

Today, it is testament to the NTS that the property looks like it did when first built. When Mackintosh handed over the keys to Blackie, he is said to have said: “Here is a house, it is not an Italian villa, an English mansion house, a Swiss Chalet or a Scotch House, it is a dwelling house.’’

And not a truer word has been said. The beautiful formal gardens have been created as to the early design and the entrance is wonderful, created lovingly and featuring the stained glass high in the doors, a Mackintosh trademark.

All the rooms are airy and light with the sitting room thoughtfully designed and created to enable the maximum use by the Blackie family.

Mackintosh’s wife Margaret MacDonald designed and made many of the textiles and the house is a lovely spot to visit as is The Mackintosh Building in Comrie, Perthshire. It’s owned by The Landmark Trust and and was built just after Hill House in 1903-4. Commissioned by a local draper and ironmonger as a shop with a flat above and workrooms in the attic, it really is a beautiful place to stay. It has all the hallmarks of Mackintosh, with lovely rooms, which are simple in design, but grand in stature and the shop downstairs still has the old-fashioned layout with huge wooden counters.

Both properties are a tribute to a remarkable man.

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