Remembering Patricia Douglas

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: Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society

New jug

After four years of asking visitors to 'keep a lookout' and scouring auction house listings David from our team recently spotted details of a washjug designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich on Ebay. Apparently identical to the jug which W.J. Bassett-Lowke had purchased for the Guest Bedroom at 78 Derngate around 1917 - this was an exciting moment. These jugs don't come to the market very often. Some swift action by Barbara on behalf of The Friends of 78 Derngate and the jug was purchased and on its way from Germany. It is now displayed in the Guest Bedroom and can be viewed by visitors to the house. The fate of the original jug is known from family memories, it was broken many years ago. Having its replacement here further completes the stylish ensemble of Mackintosh - designed furniture and Olbrich ceramics in one of Britain’s most unusual and avant-garde interiors for the period. Staying as a guest at 78 Derngate would certainly have been a memorable experience.

Further details of the jug can be found in our
online archive.

Volunteers' Week

Volunteers' weekVolunteers' Week was established in 1984 by Volunteering England. They merged with NCVO in 2013 which now leads this UK-wide campaign. During this particular week in June many organisations across the UK take extra time to acknowledge and thank their priceless volunteers. It is a chance to celebrate all of the fantastic work and commitment they give throughout the year.

Here at 78 Derngate we would not be able to survive without our 50-strong team of wonderful volunteers. All of them are passionate about keeping The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House open to the public and raising awareness of this award-winning attraction in Northampton.

Hidden gem

We’re delighted to announce that 78 Derngate was the winner of a recent award as ‘Hidden Gem’ at the prestigious UK Heritage Awards 2019. The awards were handed out at an exclusive ceremony celebrating the best heritage experiences and places to stay in the UK in London on 25th March.

The Awards are arranged by the UK’s leading heritage, tourism and destination marketing company, Visit Heritage, publisher of heritage guide Hudson’s and hotel guide, Signpost.

The winners of the UK Heritage Awards 2019 were crowned across twelve categories, which were adjudicated by a panel of judges formed of leading figures and experts on UK Heritage.

78 Derngate needs your help

Donate here
Update no.2 July:

Dear Supporter
As you are no doubt aware our efforts to build an extension on the back of 82 Derngate continue, but for once this message is not asking for monetary support (phew). Earlier this month we submitted our revised plans to Northampton Borough Council for planning permission and listed building consent. This is now the subject of public consultation which closes on 8th August 2019.

The Trustees and the Friends committee are urging all our supporters to write into the council backing the revised proposal. We hope that this will demonstrate and reflect the passion and esteem in which the house and organisation is held and improve our likelihood of success.

The easiest way to send a comment – and it need only be a sentence or two - is by using
this link and clicking on "Comment on this application".
As always thank you for your time, efforts and support.

Les Patterson, Secretary to the Trust.

Update no.1 July: The appeal is going well – we are now at £75,000 – but, we still need more. We've now launched our exciting Summer Raffle with many spectacular prizes and tickets can be bought from Reception and if you wish to sell tickets on our behalf, please contact Liz.

As you may already be aware, a grant of up to £200,000 has been pledged to us by Northampton Borough Council to enhance the visitor experience here at The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House & Galleries. We plan to enlarge the existing atrium to facilitate an increased shopping area, a new reception area and tearoom and provide a new exhibition/performance space at mezzanine level. At the same time it will provide better permanent disabled access. The increased storage will free up rooms in 78 Derngate, enabling them to be open to the public for the first time. The opportunity also exists to reduce our carbon footprint by lowering heating costs.

As a self-funded charity, we depend on trading in order to survive and believe that this plan will produce greater income and lower costs, making the venue much more sustainable. An architect’s illustration of how it may look (subject to planning approval) is available to see

Our aim is to match fund the £200k by the summer and so we are asking Friends and supporters to donate in units of £100. For each unit of £100 the donors’ names will be recognised on engraved glass panelling located in the new atrium. So, if you wish to add 2 names, this will cost £200 and so on. We do of course welcome donations of any amount and individual groups could potentially donate money through their own fund-raising activities.

To donate, click on the link below which automatically takes you to our secure fund-raising page. All donations are commission-free so the whole amount comes to the Trust.

Download architect's plan 1

Download architect's plan 2

Download architect's plan 3

Donate here