Addition and alterations to Hous'hill

M243 Addition and alterations to Hous'hill

Address: Glasgow
Date: 1904–5; 1908–10
Client: John Cochrane and Catherine Cranston
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Origins

In late 1903 or early 1904 Glasgow tea room proprietor Miss Catherine (Kate) Cranston and her husband, John Cochrane, an iron-foundry owner and Provost of Barrhead, began renting 'Househill' (as it was always named on O.S. maps), a large country house at Nitshill, S. of Glasgow. 1 Apparently known locally as 'Howsle' or 'Hoozel' – which may explain Mackintosh's rendering of the name as 'Hous'hill' – the house appears to date back to at least 1646, when it and its estate were bought by a Thomas Dunlop from the Stewart of Minto family. 2

During the 19th century the house was extended and altered. Before 1831, the noted architect David Hamilton designed a late Georgian-style addition, including a bowed, two-storey wing. 3

Colour photograph of ground-floor plan showing David Hamilton's proposed additions and alterationsColour photograph of first-floor plan showing David Hamilton's proposed additions and alterations

Then, between 1858 and 1870, the arrangement of its W. side was fundamentally altered and a Scots-Baronial, conical-roofed tower was constructed in a new internal angle. 4 It is not clear if by 1904 any of the early fabric of the house remained.

B/W photograph of conical-roofed tower on N.W.elevation

Commission

By 1904 when she commissioned Mackintosh to redecorate her new home, Kate Cranston had established herself as one of his most important patrons: his fourth tea-room commission for her, the Willow Tea Rooms, had recently opened. Between 1904 and 1906, he was responsible for a reception/music room, a dining room, two bedrooms (known as the white bedroom and blue bedroom), a billiard room, and the entrance hall and stairs. 5

Two years later Mackintosh returned to Hous'hill to carry out further interior work and some structural alterations and additions. The house was demolished in 1937 and only one exterior photograph of this work survives: thus the plans of January and and elevations and section of July 1908, signed but not drawn by Mackintosh, are the only indication of the architectural work proposed. Furniture and drawings for the interior also survive. 6 The 1908 drawings show several additions and alterations: a two-storey, flat-roofed bay is added to the S. elevation, with a dormer window on the roof directly above; the roof of the neo-classical portico on the E. elevation is transformed into a balcony with railings; the servants' hall becomes a ground-floor reception room, the card room, with additional fireplace and chimney, and alterations for doorways; the service quarters on the W. side of the ground floor are reorganised and include a new servants' hall, a refitted butler's pantry, chimney and windows; a first-floor bathroom with window, incorporating the chimney, is created from the thick masonry wall between the white and blue bedrooms; the attic rooms are reorganised to correspond to the dormer window and to incorporate the new chimney. 7

Exterior

A shallow, S.-facing rectangular bay was added to the lower-ceilinged W. section of the house, which extended the new ground-floor card room and the first-floor white bedroom. The bay was glazed with leaded, metal-framed casements on all three sides and the walls were roughcast. Two rolled-steel beams were inserted across the new opening in the exterior wall for structural support. In its form, materials and central location on a garden elevation the bay is reminiscent of those at The Hill House and Windyhill. Potential sources for all three bays can be found in the pages of Mackintosh's mid-1890s travel sketchbooks, such as traditional rectangular bays with leaded glazing on 17th-century buildings in Lyme Regis, Dorset. 8 However, the bay provided a marked contrast with the existing, partly Georgian, S. facade of Hous'hill.

The unusual balcony above the entrance portico on the E. elevation was accessed from the octagonal room on the first floor. The elevation shows that he intended the Georgian window above the portico to be altered to accommodate a glass door, apparently leaded, and the 'wooden top of porch [to be] flattened with railing to make [a] sitting out balcony'. According to annotations on the plan, the floor of the balcony was to be laid with lead and the balustrade was to be wooden and run behind the existing stone pediment. The majority of the balcony work appears to have been carried out by James Grant. An ironwork pergola made by Bryden & Middleton, described on the drawing as a 'screen', was to stretch up from the sides and over the balcony at the height of the facade cornice. 9

B/W photograph of S. elevation with two-storey bayB/W photograph of portico with iron trellis on its roof

Interior

The title 'Card Room' does not appear on the January 1908 ground-floor plan, but appears in the job-book entry for the 1908–10 work and from Mackintosh's drawings for furniture of 1909. 10 The former servants' hall located between the billiard room and the kitchen became the card room and was enlarged with the addition of a glazed bay. A new, second, fireplace was inserted into the thick W. wall. The change in function and status of the room was indicated by the blocking up of the doorway to the kitchen in the W. wall and the opening up of the two cupboards in the E. wall to provide access to the billiard room, so creating what has been described as a 'games suite'. 11 Unlike billiard rooms at comparable private houses or at public tea rooms, the Cranston–Cochrane billiard room was not provided with its own entrance or cloakroom facilities.

Computer assisted drawing of ground-floor plan

The fireplace of the new card room was decorated with pieces of thick plate glass set horizontally, and the walls with gold leaf. 12 A new cast-iron grate, probably designed for this fireplace, included the date 1909 between the initials 'JC' and 'CC'. Mackintosh repeated this use of clients' initials seven years later in the grate for the lounge-hall at 78 Derngate, Northampton. 13 Furniture and fittings for the card room included four tables, chairs and a 'centre stand'; a writing table and two chairs thought to be intended for the window bay; and four small gesso panels of the queens of the four card suits designed and made by Margaret Macdonald. 14 The number of tables, the central stand and the convivial social aspect of card parties in this recreation room in a private country house is comparable to the layout and function of Miss Cranston's public, urban tea rooms. 15

Later history

John Cochrane died in 1917. Two years later Kate Cranston left Hous'hill for the North British Railway Hotel in George Square, Glasgow. 16 The Mackintosh furniture remained in the house. The Mackintosh interiors then passed into the hands of the new tenant, Edward Arthur Gamble. In 1926, Hous'hill was purchased by Glasgow lawyer John W. Henderson, and Gamble took the Mackintosh furniture with him to his new home. This furniture was offered for sale by J. & R. Edmiston, auctioneers, on 13 May 1933. 17

On 5 July 1934 a fire caused extensive damage to the first and second floors of the house. Around four months later negotiations between a District Valuer of Inland Revenue and solicitors MacKenzie, Roberton & Co., acting on behalf of the Trustees of John W. Henderson, were under way on a proposed acquisition for the Corporation of 'Househill and its lands'. In October 1934 the purchase of 91 acres at Househillwood, immediately E. of and across the Levern Water from Hous'hill, was recommended. 18 By January 1937 details of a purchase settlement had been drawn up, with an entry date to the house and grounds for the Corporation of 2 February 1937. 19 In December 1937, plans for the redevelopment of Hous'hill's grounds into a park were proposed; this work was nearing completion in May 1939. 20

B/W photograph of S. elevation in the aftermath of fire on 5 July 1934

The 1938 O.S. map confirms that Hous'hill had been demolished by this date; however, the layout of its formal gardens and grounds appeared unchanged. The new Househillwood housing estate is shown immediately to the E. 21

Notes:

1: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p.193. See for instance, O.S., Renfrewshire XII.12 (Combined) (25 inch, 1st edn, 1858–64) and O.S., Renfrewshire XII.SE (County Series 1:10560, 3rd revision, 1938–47).

2: The pronunciation 'Howsle' and the the lands of 'Househill' are documented as early as the 1470s according to John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, The Old Glasgow Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry, Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons, 1870, no. 57 (unpaginated); the pronunciation 'Hoozel' is suggested in John Weyers, 'Kate Cranston and the Mackintosh Connection', Glasgow Herald, 6 June 1981, 'Weekender' supplement, p. 7.

3: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 42880; GLAHA 42881; GLAHA 42882; GLAHA 42891; C. Taylor, The Levern Delineated in a Series of Most Interesting Scenery, 1831, pp. 82–3.

4: The earlier form of the house can be seen on O.S., Renfrewshire XII.12 (Combined) (25 inch, 1st edn, 1858–64). The conical-roofed tower can be seen in Thomas Annan's photograph published in John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, The Old Glasgow Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry, Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons, 1870, no. 57 (unpaginated).

5: For detailed descriptions and analysis of these interiors see Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009 pp. 195–215; contemporary photographs The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52599; GLAHA 52600; GLAHA 52601; GLAHA 52602; GLAHA 52603.

6: A photograph taken at the time of the devastating fire in July 1934 shows the 1908–10 bay addition. John Weyers, 'Kate Cranston and the Mackintosh Connection', Glasgow Herald, 6 June 1981, 'Weekender' supplement, p. 7; Glasgow Herald, 6 July 1934, pp. 5 (photograph), 11; Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 244–8.

7: Mackintosh's labelling of the elevation orientations is incorrect: N. should be W. (or more precisely N.W.); S. should be E.; E. should be S.; and W. should be N.: Glasgow School of Art archive: elevations and sections, MC:G47 (M243-002).

8: David Walker, 'The Early Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh', in Nikolaus Pevsner, 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh', in N. Pevsner, Studies in Art, Architecture and Design, vol.2: Victorian and After, London: Thames & Hudson, 1968, p. 129.

9: See annotations on plan and elevation. Glasgow School of Art archive: MC:G47 (M243-002).

10: See for instance, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41112; Emily V. Davis, 'Mackintosh, Hous'hill and the mysterious Card Room', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 87, Autumn 2004, pp. 6–9.

11: Emily V. Davis, 'Mackintosh, Hous-hill and the mysterious Card Room', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 87, Autumn 2004, p. 8.

12: Peter Wylie Davidson, 'Memories of Mackintosh', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, no. 22, Summer 1979, p. 5; Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 114; the job-book entries for the contractor responsible for all aspects of the fireplace, J. Caird Parker, verify the use of glass in the surround.

13: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 246; Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41770.

14: Detailed descriptions and analysis of the card room can found in Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 244–8; D1909.12 shows the writing table and two chairs intended for the card room bay; see also Emily V. Davis, 'Mackintosh, Hous-hill and the mysterious Card Room', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, no. 87, Autumn 2004, pp. 6–9. Sketches for Hous'hill card-room furniture and fireplace ironwork can be found in Mackintosh's travel sketchbooks, Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 53014/18 and 53014/48. The four gesso panels (now in the collection of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA) make a brief appearance in a film on Mackintosh, released in 1965 (11:44–57): Charles Rennie Mackintosh, dir. by Louise Annand and William Thomson, Scottish Educational Film Association (SEFA),1965, ssa.nls.uk [accessed 23 January 2012], Edinburgh: Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland, no. 0090.

15: Two drawings of 'The Hous'hill, Nitshill' were exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1909 (686 and 690). As the Glasgow Herald critic did not mention these in the review of the exhibition, it is not known whether these were architectural drawings.

16: Perilla Kinchin, Miss Cranston: Patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland, 1999, p. 82.

17: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 244–5.

18: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Corporation, Housing Department, sites and building sub-committee minutes, C1/3/93, 5 October 1934.

19: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Corporation, Housing Department, sites and building sub-committee minutes, C1/3/96, 8 January 1937.

20: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Corporation, Housing Department, sites and building sub-committee minutes, C1/3/97, 3 December 1937; C1/3/100, 19 May 1939.

21: O.S., Renfrewshire XII.SE (County Series 1:10560, 3rd revision, 1938–47).