Hill House

Scotland's most famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh created the Hill House for publisher Walter Blackie and his family in 1902-4.

Mackintosh was responsible not only for the building but also for its interior decoration, on which he collaborated with his wife Margaret Macdonald. He persuaded Blackie to jettison most of his existing furniture so he could create a perfect work of art, in which every last detail, down to the light fittings, formed part of a harmonious whole. The Blackie family lived in the house until the National Trust took it over in 1982, and it retains the feel of a family home.

Seen from the outside, the house looks like a marriage of Scottish Baronial and Modernism. The stark grey roughcast walls of the exterior hardly prepare you for the lightness and elegance within.

 

Permanent collections

You enter through the library, a book-filled public space where visitors were received, and gradually penetrate into the more private spaces beyond. The drawing room is light and bright, with a large bay window looking out over the River Clyde and decorative gesso panels. The dining room, by contrast, is panelled with dark wood, and contains some of the few pieces of furniture that Walter Blackie was not prepared to discard – his dining table and chairs.

Upstairs, the L-shaped master bedroom has built-in cabinets and a carved white bed with hangings embroidered by Margaret Macdonald, featuring the elongated women that were her trademark. Other rooms that have been returned to their original condition include the upper hall, Walter Blackie's dressing room and the bathroom. The upper floor is also where changing displays on the work of Mackintosh and his wife are staged.

 

Art Funded works

The ebonised table with mother-of-pearl inlay was last the piece of furniture Mackintosh designed for the Hill House. Intended for the drawing room, its stark black geometry provides a perfect counterpoint to the delicate white, pink and silver decorative scheme.

Mackintosh's charming watercolour The Summer Palace of the Queens of Aragon, painted in 1924–6 when he was he living in Port Vendres in the south of France, demonstrates how skilled he was as an artist.

 

Visitor information

The former pantry and kitchens now house a tea room and two shops. One shop sells work by contemporary designers, while another sells books on architecture and design. Wheelchair users will find many parts of the house accessible apart from the upper floor.

The gardens have been carefully restored to how they looked during the first decade of the houses's life, with plenty to interest keen gardeners.


Art we've helped buy at Hill House

Venue details

Hill House Upper Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh Argyll G84 9AJ 0844 493 2208 www.nts.org.uk

Entry details

Free with National Art Pass (standard entry £10.50)

1 Apr – 31 Oct
Daily, 11.30am – 5.30pm