Tuesday 21st March 2017 was the 100th anniversary of the marriage of Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke and Florence Jane Jones at Abington Avenue Congregrational Church. After a four day honeymoon in Bournemouth they returned to begin their married life at 78 Derngate, Northampton.
Exactly 100 years later the doors were thrown open to welcome Friends, supporters and visitors from all quarters in celebration of the historic anniversary. We were delighted to offer celebratory drinks, wedding cake, shop discounts and the opportunity to view our Centenary Exhibition, “Charles Rennie Mackintosh & The Great War”. Film footage of the 1917 wedding was rolling and many visitors posed on the famous doorstep of no 78 for commemorative photos which are now included in our special Centenary Day Album.
We were delighted to welcome The Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Christopher Malpas and Lady Mayoress Mrs Lynn Malpas to the opening of our Centenary Exhibition, "Charles Rennie Mackintosh & The Great War" on 31st January.
The Mayor and Mayoress were given a tour of the exhibition by Curator, David Walsh. With its focus on Mackintosh's later career around the period of the First World War, visitors to the exhibition will have a unique opportunity to understand in greater depth the context of 78 Derngate. The three month run will see the largest display of Mackintosh design in England.
We had great pleasure in also showing the Mayoral party around 78 Derngate for their first visit to the house.
July 31st is a landmark date in the history of 78 Derngate. It was on this day in 1916, 100 years ago, that W.J. Bassett-Lowke got the keys to his new house and wrote a letter to Mackintosh. According to his niece Janet, this was his first letter to Mackintosh and survives in part at The Hunterian in Glasgow. It is a response to earlier letters and drawings from Mackintosh. It starts, “Dear Mr Mackintosh, Many thanks for yours of the 28th inst., and 29th, all the drawings have safely arrived and the work is in hand. I have obtained possession of the house today and my friends are commencing the work…” The letter is incomplete but discusses width and type of carpet and an interesting issue of a curtain, ‘……I am still in doubts as to whether we are doing right by having a curtain across the hall, I still think it would be better if you design a screen for the floor, say about 3ft long and 7ft high and about 6 (text too faint to read here) back and re hang the door so that it opens back against the wall.”
To mark this historic day we are releasing a never-before published photograph discovered in our archives by Chris Sanderson who was recently doing some research. The photo is a lovely composition showing W.J Bassett-Lowke in a view of the back garden of 78 Derngate, probably about 1925. It features Wynne and who we assume to be his three nieces, June, Vivian and Janet with their mother.
The Friends of 78 Derngate celebrated this historic occasion on 31/7/16 - here’s a link to an informal live video we shared with our followers.
Today, The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House - 78 Derngate, Northampton has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, “78 Derngate: WW1 icon”, in Northampton. Supported by volunteers from the local community, the project focuses on the late career of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Britain during and after The First World War period. A special exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mackintosh's work in Northampton will open in February 2017.
The project will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the remodelling, during WW1, of 78 Derngate, Northampton by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his client, renowned model engineer, W.J Bassett-Lowke. A special three month exhibition – scheduled to open in February 2017 and produced in conjunction with a team of local volunteers will tell the story of Mackintosh's late career in Britain. This will be an opportunity for 78 Derngate staff and volunteers to share with the local community and beyond, the fascinating story surrounding Mackintosh's work in Northampton where he was to design the only house in England in his distinctive style. The project team will carry out research, organise events and produce publications to complement the exhibition; there will be opportunities for new skills and new insights for everyone involved – both visitors to the exhibition and those who produce it.
Exhibition visitors will have the opportunity to see stunning, little known designs by Mackintosh and be able to discover more about his work during WW1, the circumstances in which he worked and to learn more about how The Great War affected him. A linked programme of events will give opportunities for deeper involvement and a website will give access to an exhibition archive for years to come.
Commenting on the award, David Walsh, project Curator said: “We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. We're all looking forward to an unforgettable celebration of Mackintosh's great gift to Northampton, 78 Derngate. People often describe the house as a 'hidden treasure' – it's far too fantastic to be hidden, everyone needs to see it and we hope that this celebratory exhibition will help attract more visitors than ever before. If you think you know Mackintosh's work – this exhibition may hold some surprises for you!"