Auchinibert, Killearn

M254 Auchinibert, Killearn

Address: Killearn G63 9PY
Date: 1905–8
Client: F. J. Shand
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Photograph of Auchinibert from N.W.

Commission

Auchinibert was built for the Glasgow businessman F. J. Shand, assistant manager of the Nobel's Explosives Co. Ltd. At the time of the commission he was living with his wife and young family at 4 Bowmont Gardens in the Dowanhill area of Glasgow's West End. He appears to have retained the Glasgow house, carrying out alterations there between 1911 and 1916, which suggests that Auchinibert was intended for weekends and holidays. 1 Its situation 14 miles N. of Glasgow between the Campsie Fells and Loch Lomond made it a pleasantly rural retreat, but a nearby railway station kept it within reach of the city and work.

Why Shand turned to Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh to design his new house is not known, nor is it clear if he specifically wanted Mackintosh to undertake the job. He seems to have consulted the architect in early September 1905, and on 13 September Mackintosh wrote to him with some illustrations of his recent domestic work:

I am sorry that the book on Sussex Cottages has been lent from our office but I have written for it and I should have it by Friday. I have pleasure in sending you 2 plans and six photographs of "The Hill House" at Helensburgh and a copy of Dekorative Kunst showing some views of "Windyhill" [at] Kilmacolm. The latter seems about the size of house you spoke of. I trust they may help you to define your own ideas of your house. 2

Shand replied the next day. Although his letter is lost, he apparently expressed a preference for a more traditional style, and Mackintosh responded obligingly:

I may say that I am in perfect agreement with you regarding the building and furnishing of your proposed house in one style. It is only a coincidence that I sent you illustrations of work done for clients who wanted work such as I have sent you. I thought that the arrangement of plan in these houses might interest and help you. We have many books here illustrating old English work and if these would be of some service to you I should be glad to show or lend them to you. If you want a house in the Tudor or any other phase of English architecture, I can promise you my best services if you ask me to be your architect. 3

It has been suggested that Mrs Shand, who came from the Isle of Man, 4 was responsible for pushing the design in a more English direction. 5 When asked for his recollections of the job by Thomas Howarth in 1947, W. S. Moyes, who had worked in Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's office, thought it possible that the mullioned windows were requested by Mr Shand. 6

Exterior

The building is an attractive but not particularly imaginative version of a many-gabled Cotswold manor house. Alien to its Scottish setting, it recalls some of the 16th- and 17th-century houses sketched by Mackintosh on his tours of S.W. England. The long, horizontal proportions of the mullioned windows come from these English examples (which may also have been a source for the window strips at the Willow Tea Rooms and in the drawing room of Mackintosh's own house in Florentine Terrace). The use of honey-coloured sandstone matches the style.

Photograph of Auchinibert from N.W.Photograph of garden front at AuchinibertPhotograph of Auchinibert from N.W.

Only a few minor features show Mackintosh's individualism: the reverse-ogee moulding over the front door, which ends in odd little triangular label stops; the cyma recta mouldings on the tops of the chimney-stacks; and one or two small, square windows high up on the N. and S. elevations, which recall the Scottish castellated tradition.

Photograph of front entrance at AuchinibertPhotograph of front entrance detail at AuchinibertPhotograph of front entrance detail at AuchinibertPhotograph of bay window on N. front at Auchinibert

An underground aqueduct carrying water from Loch Katrine to Glasgow crosses the grounds, and is said to have restricted the siting of the house. 7 This may explain why Mackintosh did not adopt an L-shaped plan to take better advantage of the S. aspect. The garden terrace enjoys a fine view W. over gently sloping ground towards the village and distant Loch Lomond, but the S. front has only a few small windows, and is largely given over to service accommodation and the kitchen yard.

Photograph of Auchinibert from W.Photograph of view from terrace at AuchinibertPhotograph of Auchinibert from S.W.

Interior

The following description is based on Mackintosh's drawings, and on photographs of Auchinibert taken c. 1973.

The plan is quite different from Windyhill and The Hill House. There, the principal rooms are strung out along one side of a corridor, but at Auchinibert they are grouped around a large, central hall. The hall is polygonal at the corner where the main stairs rise, with a broad ingle tucked underneath. Drawing room and dining room open off opposite sides, with a morning room opening out of the dining room. This type of hall-and-hearth-centred plan resembles the houses of Mackintosh's English contemporaries M. H. Baillie Scott and C. F. A. Voysey. Upstairs, four bedrooms and two dressing rooms open off a N.–S. corridor, with a second ingle on the half landing. The service wing is at the S.E. corner.

Computer assisted drawing of ground-floor planComputer assisted drawing of first-floor plan

Dark oak panelling in the hall and dining room is of generally simple design, but with isolated use of linenfold around the front door and above one of the fireplaces. Fluted classical pilasters flank the dining-room fireplace. It has been suggested that this unadventurous woodwork reflects the client's wishes, 8 a view possibly borne out by one of Mackintosh's letters to Shand: 'I have your letter regarding wood panelling for Dining Room, Morning Room and Hall. This work I will put in hand according to instructions in your letter.' 9 More characteristic of Mackintosh is the balustrade on the landing, with its flat handrail supported on plain slats, comparable to the Oak Room staircase in Miss Cranston's Ingram Street tea rooms. 10 Some of the bedroom fireplaces faintly echo those at The Hill House and Hous'hill, but are very much simpler.

Photograph of panelling at AuchinibertPhotograph of landing balustrade at AuchinibertPhotograph of fireplace alcove at Auchinibert

Later alterations.

Thomas Howarth wrote in 1952 that Mackintosh fell out with the Shands during the project, and 'before Auchinibert was completed, [he] gave up the job and another architect was called in.' 11 While Howarth evidently had first-hand information from some of those who worked on the house, this description of events is not quite borne out by the surviving documents. According to Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's job-book entry, some of the principal rooms were carpeted in March 1908, which implies that the building was more or less finished; and the 'other architect', Alexander David Hislop (1876–1966), appears not to have begun work on Auchinibert until late in 1910. 12 But whatever the precise facts, the employment of another architect to make alterations after such a short interval does strongly suggest that the Shands were dissatisfied with Mackintosh's work in some way. Hislop may have appeared an attractive alternative because the firm in which he was by this time a partner would already have been known to Shand, having worked on the interior redecoration of the Nobel's Explosives Co.'s offices at 195 West George Street, Glasgow, in 1900. 13

Fourteen drawings for alterations to Auchinibert, mostly dated between October 1910 and April 1911 and thought to be by Hislop, were still in the house in 1978, but their present whereabouts are not known. 14 A list of these drawings survives, however, which gives clues to some of the works proposed, including a 'new bedroom' and a 'new front bathroom'. 15 This information tallies with pencil amendments made by Hislop to a May 1906 set of drawings by Mackintosh for Auchinbert, which show a bathroom carved out of the guest bedroom at the N. end of the first floor and a rearrangement of the bathroom above the front entrance, as well as other changes. 16 These were presumably the 'various works' for which the mason and wright Robert Simpson was paid 520 15s 6d between 27 February and 1 December 1911. At the same time he was also paid for 'deafening', or sound proofing. 17

Further minor works were carried out under Hislop over the next five years, as well as a couple of more significant jobs: in August 1914 J. B. Meiklejohn was paid 705 12s 5d for electrical work, and in December the same year Simpson received 287 19s 8d for a 'potting shed' and for work in connection with dry rot – possibly remedying a defect in Mackintosh's work. 18

Hislop's most visible alteration to Auchinibert is a single-storey addition to the drawing room at the N. end of the entrance front, roughly sketched in pencil on the May 1906 drawings. It seems that an extension on this site was under consideration while Mackintosh was still employed at Auchinibert, because written next to it in Mackintosh's hand on the basement and ground-floor plans from one of the surviving sets are the words 'This part of house not to be built mean time'. 19 The extension was perhaps an idea that originated with the client, which Mackintosh was unwilling to implement because he thought it would damage the appearance of the entrance front, and for which the services of another architect had therefore to be sought.

Photograph of Auchinibert from N.E.

The balustrade surrounding the lower terrace overlooking the garden is a late 20th-century addition and was not in existence when the house was photographed c. 1973. Its baroque balusters contrast with the much simpler balustrade designed by Mackintosh to enclose the small upper terrace between the dining and drawing rooms, which has perfectly plain, straight-sided balusters of square section.

Photograph of terrace balustrades at AuchinibertPhotograph of original balustrade at Auchinibert

Around 1975 the kitchen yard was roofed over, and converted along with the wash-house into a double garage with twin arched entrances. The service wing was also converted into a flat, with a separate external entrance from the S. 20

Photograph of Auchinibert from S.E.

A report on the condition of Auchinibert was produced as part of the Mackintosh Buildings Survey, led by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and carried out between 2015 and 2016. 21

Perspective drawings

Mackintosh drew two pen and ink perspectives of Auchinibert. 22 One has the name of the Glasgow printers Bone & Hulley written on the back, with the instruction 'make for 3 col[umn] breadth'. This suggests that a printing plate or block was to be made from it, possibly for reproduction in a periodical, but no such publication has been traced. The same drawing is inscribed on the back with the office address of Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh. The other is inscribed: '"A Country House" / Chas. R Mackinosh Architect / To be returned to / 6 Florentine Terrace / Ann St Hillhead'. It may have been submitted for exhibition, but no record of this has been found. There are a number of differences between the drawings and the house as built, most obviously the inclusion of a long mullioned-and-transomed window to light the stairs, which suggests that the drawings date from relatively early in the development of the design.

There are also two unfinished perspective drawings of the house in pencil, which appear not to be by Mackintosh. 23 One, showing the entrance front, seems to be related to a view from exactly the same angle by Andrew Graham Henderson, which was exhibited by Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1908 and illustrated in Academy Architecture. 24 The pencil version may have been an abandoned first attempt at this exhibition piece. It is notable that Mackintosh did not himself draw the perspective for the Institute, as he had two years before in the case of Scotland Street School, and it may indicate his disenchantment with Auchinibert. The critic of the Glasgow Herald found fault with the style of the exhibited drawing, which he thought gave an inadequate impression of the building: 'The pen-and-ink drawing by Mr. A. G. Henderson of a house at Killearn, designed by Messrs Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, is in a kind unsuitable to its purpose surely. This would-be decorative method conveys little idea of the structure.' 25 The drawing shows a raised terrace in front of the main (E.) entrance, which also features on Mackintosh's plans for the house. No such terrace exists today, and it is unclear if it was ever built.

Reproduction of ground and first-floor plans and perspective from the N.E., by A. G. Henderson, 'Academy Architecture' 33, January 1908, p.83

Proposed village at Killearn

Mackintosh made rough plans for two groups of cottages to be built at Killearn. It is not clear if these have any connection with Auchinibert or Shand.

Notes:

1: University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections: clients' ledger of Campbell, Hislop & Welsh for 1898–1920, MS Hislop B.2, pp. 291, 293, 377.

4: 1901 Census viewed at Ancestry.co: www.ancestry.co.uk/ [accessed 22 February 2013].

5: Charles McKean, Stirling and the Trossachs, Edinburgh: R.I.A.S. and Scottish Academic Press, 1985, p. 135.

6: University of Toronto, Robarts Library: letter from W. S. Moyes to Thomas Howarth, 29 April 1947, B96-0028/017 (13).

7: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: Auchinibert file, notes for public opening 9 and 10 July 1977.

8: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 238–9.

9: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: letter from Mackintosh to F. J. Shand, 5 January 1907, GLAHA 55482. The letter is actually dated '5 January 1906', presumably a slip of the pen.

10: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 238.

11: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, pp. 109–11.

12: University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections: clients' ledger of Campbell, Hislop & Welsh for 1898–1920, MS Hislop B.2, pp. 291, 293 and 377.

13: University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections: client accounts of Campbell, Hislop & Welsh for 1897–1910, MS Hislop B.1, pp. 34–5. The firm supplied drawings for panelling in the board room and for electrical work.

14: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: letter from Dr Norton to Pamela Reekie, 23 January 1980. Dr Norton, who sold Auchinibert in 1978, believed the drawings to be 'Hislop's working sketches based on a technician's copy of the Mackintosh plans'.

15: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: letter from Pamela Reekie to Dr Norton, 18 January 1980.

16: Sold by Phillips, Glasgow School of Art, 10 November 2000, lot 416; now (2011) mostly in the collection of Robert Harper, Staines. These drawings – virtually identical with those approved by the Western District Committee of the County of Stirlingshire on 20 June 1906 – were formerly in the possession of Hislop, Welsh & Humphreys, successors to Campbell, Hislop & Welsh. A third set of drawings for Auchinibert, dated November 1906, was offered for sale by Phillips at Glasgow School of Art on 8 November 2001, lot 504.

17: University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections: clients' ledger of Campbell, Hislop & Welsh for 1898–1920, MS Hislop B.2, pp. 291, 293 and 377.

18: University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections: clients' ledger of Campbell, Hislop & Welsh for 1898–1920, MS Hislop B.2, pp. 291, 293 and 377.

19: Staines: collection of Robert Harper.

20: Alison Harris, A Report on the Present and Future Condition of the Remaining Buildings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Dip.Arch. dissertation, Glasgow School of Art, 1976.

21: A copy of the report (MBS39) is held by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, Mackintosh Queen's Cross, 870 Garscube Road, Glasgow G20 7EL. The Mackintosh Buildings Survey was funded by The Monument Trust.

22: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 46433 (MM254-022), GLAHA 55475 (M254-022).

23: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41856 (M254-018), GLAHA 42000 (M254-019).

24: Academy Architecture, 33, January 1908, p. 83.

25: Glasgow Herald, 23 March 1908, p. 11.