78 Derngate – The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House in Northampton

The news items of the refurbishment of 78 Derngate in Northampton had been noted when they appeared around 2003 though there appeared no undue haste to travel the modest distance of 60 miles to view the attraction. The opening of restored 78 Derngate had been, however, a major event within the world of enthusiasts of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (CRM). As an exercise in interior design of the terraced house belonging to Joseph Bassett-Lowke, it was a demonstration of breathing new life and vitality into very much a town house of limited size and aspect.

The first visit to 78 Derngate was quite memorable, however, on account of both the design/deportment of the building, and the depth of knowledge of CRM lore of the assisting staff. Here in England was a fierce pride in their CRM connection. As part of the refurbishment, the property at number 76 had been acquired and used as a staging post for the main house at number 78 and included main entrance/reception, a meeting space/café and exhibition spaces. The location operated very much as a cultural hub for ‘arty’ folks in Northampton. At any time we did visit, the café tables were always fully booked.

Groups are conducted through 78 Derngate rather than allow individuals to wander at will. First on the list is the kitchen, which in its time was forward looking with inclusion of emergent electrically powered gadgets. This reflected domestic staff shortages at the time of its design.

The kitchen 78 Derngate: Credit – The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House 78 Derngate

The lounge is perhaps the most striking setting of 78 Derngate. It remains striking in its appeal and reveals a masterclass of interior design in a small space. The ambiance is distinctly Japanese.

The lounge 78 Derngate: Credit – The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House 78 Derngate

The upper guest bedroom is noted for its famous striped ceiling wallpaper – a feature which has been diligently included in the Mackintosh House in Glasgow. While this is proudly shown off in its northern location, at 78 Derngate the curator is more likely to comment that when George Bernard Shaw stayed there as a guest, the host would infer that the striking patterns would vanish with the closing of the eyes. Some 100 yards from 78 Derngate is the Royal and Derngate Theatre which was granted exclusive permission to produce various works by the great playwright.

In its day, the front door of 78 Derngate would have been as it were a portal into a unique design experience.

Close up of front door 78 Derngate: Credit – The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House 78 Derngate

Further building developments have been completed with the construction of an extension to rear of 78 Derngate which probably in some measure protects the building from the ravages of the weather. A visit is always worthwhile to 78 Derngate – for both the experience of its unique design features but also to bear witness to the manifest enthusiasm and enterprise of its English custodians.

By northernlight1

I have interests is a wide range of topics and have written on these and more formal subjects for quite some time. The written word still retains the power to inform and motivate - hopefully constructively and certainly has to be used responsibly in an age of false information trails.


  1. Thank you for this article. I found it clear and informative and I’m sure it will encourage others to visit if they haven’t already taken in the delights of the Bassett Lowkes home. I’ve visited 76/78 Derngate a couple of times now. Neither time was I guided through the rooms. Perhaps this was a change brought about by Covid.

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