Patricia Douglas, who died in 2016, was a housewife at a loose end when a part-time job ignited a passion for the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. While working at the New Glasgow Society her initial interest in Mackintosh burgeoned into a ceaseless quest to promote and protect his legacy, resulting in an MBE for services to preserving his architecture. Becoming the dynamic Honorary Secretary and, later, Director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, now at Glasgow's Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church, she typically worked 13-hour days as a volunteer. Liaising with fellow enthusiasts and scholars worldwide, helping to deliver important initiatives highlighting the designer's achievements and forming a supportive network for his legacy.
Patricia’s connection with 78 Derngate started as early as the 1970s and she was an obvious choice to become a Trustee when the Charity was formed in 1998. As a tribute to Patricia her family commissioned a competition for students at Glasgow College to design and make a bench for the garden at 78. Greig Dunbar, the winning student writes: Patricia Douglas worked tirelessly to preserve many of Mackintosh's works, so when tasked with designing a memorial bench for her it was easy to draw inspiration from Derngate as it is quite a special example, and I think Patricia must have thought so, too. While researching the rooms and styles I found the main room very striking and loved the unforgettable first impression it leaves on you and I knew then that I wanted to include the focus- grabbing lattice wall into my design somehow.
My main idea with the design of the bench was to bring elements from other parts of the house to the outside and tie the bench to the rest of the building while keeping its style as close to Mackintosh's as I could. This concept quickly developed into a high, straight back and a simple clean design, with the lattice work forming the back and the long parallel lines forming the seat. Using the design of the planter from the front of the building to create a planter to go alongside the bench afforded the opportunity to mirror one of the first visually impactful sights that can be seen of the house.
As Mackintosh's work was the main inspiration for the project, oak had seemed the perfect material to use initially, but due to the outdoor location of the bench and the nature of the British weather it seemed a better idea to look to a more resilient timber, so iroko was chosen. This is African hardwood which is perfect for outdoors and is incredibly resilient. The stained glass look was achieved using an extremely hard wearing Perspex, so hopefully it will last a very long time. Each element was hand built in my small workshop and with a bit of help from some friends, the bench came together and the result is one of which I am genuinely proud!
It was quite an honour to make a small memorial for Patricia and to be allowed to incorporate Mackintosh's designs was a rare treat that few people get and I would like to extend my thanks to the Douglas Family and to 78 Derngate for the experience.
Photo of Patricia Douglas: courtesy of The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society
78 Derngate will be represented at the National Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on 11 November 2018.
The service in the presence of The Queen, The President of Germany, The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent will be held to mark the Centenary of the Armistice at Westminster Abbey.
Over 300 people who have been involved with Heritage Lottery funded First World War projects across the UK will be in attendance. For 78 Derngate Sheila Harris, one of our Centenary Project volunteers will join with the Royal family, religious and political leaders and members of the public who have contributed to the Centenary on a national, regional and local level.
Our 2017 Centenary Project was made possible by a grant of ten thousand pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which distributes the heritage share of National Lottery funding, supporting a wide variety of projects across the UK. HLF has invested £97 million in 2,200 First World War Centenary projects.
Recognising the huge contribution the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and its First World War projects have made to the Centenary, the Department for Digital, Media and Sport invited HLF to nominate people to attend the Service.
Details of our Centenary Project, Centenary Exhibition, Events and Online Archive can be found at 78Derngate.org.uk/100
It was with great sadness that we heard the news in late December of the death of Gavin Stamp.
Gavin had a long association with 78 Derngate dating back to his interest whilst at Cambridge in the 1970s. As both Professor at The Mackintosh School of Architecture of the Glasgow School of Art from 1990 to 2003 and as an independent writer and scholar he championed the work of Mackintosh. He was greatly troubled by the fire at the Mackintosh Building in 2014 and wrote a typically forthright piece in The London Review of Books which did not hold back either in its title “Toshie Trashed” or in its assessment of the disaster.
Readers of ‘Private Eye’ will have known Gavin’s writing under his pseudonym ‘Piloti’. This, his many books, contributions to learned journals, media appearances, educational work and his tireless support for conservation groups such as The Twentieth Century Society and also The Victorian Society earned him a place in the pantheon of British architectural writers.
We were delighted over several years to welcome him to 78 Derngate with groups from The Victorian Society of America. His personal kindness, wit and vast knowledge left a lasting impression on those who met him. A reading of the numerous tributes online and in print since his passing reveals a testament to how respected he was and how widely his loss has been felt. We express our sincere condolences to his family.
Gavin Stamp. Architectural historian, writer and broadcaster. 15th March 1948 – 30th December 2017.