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.