There is still a chance for you to buy a Mackintosh room of your own as 5 The Drive is still on the market for £250,000. The grade II listed house is essentially an Edwardian five bedroom house near the Racecourse, Northampton, but the listed status is for the Charles Rennie Mackintosh (CRM) designed dining room. Mackintosh designed the room for Bassett-Lowke’s brother in law, Frank Jones, and it seems to me to be a hybrid of the designs CRM had executed for the dining room of 78 and a re-working of the decorative wall stencil for Candida Cottage, Roade.
At The Drive the variable stencil suggests a hieroglyphic pattern that sections the wall and also anchors the built in furniture of the fireplace (the lanterns above the fire are also repeated on the opposite wall) The lanterns and the mahogany fire surround plus cupboards are a grander version of 78 including an integral built in fire scuttle and magazine rack. The built in furniture is also three units wide rather than 78 Derngate’s two.
Really striking are the glazed cobalt blue tiles surrounding the fire with the eye lifted to the mantle by the lime green corner titles ( it reminded me a little of the tiled squares on the Glasgow School of Art stairwells). The green is also picked out behind the cupboard handles in plastic (Bassett-Lowkes favoured Erinoid perhaps?) A contemporary photograph of the room also shows that the furniture has plastic inlay in strips that echo the banding of the wall stencil.
Although in relative terms only recently a listed building this has allowed for a ‘miser’ gas fire and a radiator to creep into the room during the late 60’s. The wall stencil has also been recently ‘restored’ by students from the local art school.
First published in September 2000 In The Friends of 78 Derngate Newsletter Issue 10.
Author: Rob Kendall
Transcribed 2018: Barbara Floyer
Interest in the room at 5 The Drive continues. The house was sold not long after the article above went to print in 2000. In 2016 extensive efforts were made to arrange access for photography in order that the interior could be documented and featured in the 78 Derngate Centenary Exhibition. Unfortunately access was not eventually permitted. It was understood from the current owner at that time that the Mackintosh-designed room was being used as office accommodation. Additional information about this late work by Mackintosh is welcome.