Friends go on their first bus excursion since 2019 to the Hill House in Helensburgh!

Friends enjoy their visit and guided tour of the Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh!

On Wednesday 6th July, for FoGM’s first bus excursion since 2019, a party of Friends journeyed to the Hill House in Helensburgh.

The Hill House was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for publisher Walter Blackie and his family. As so often with Mackintosh buildings, the house and its finishings - gesso panels, stained glass and elegant textiles - also bear the unmistakeable imprint of Margaret Macdonald, Mackintosh’s wife and collaborator.

Our tour guide Emma led us around the interior, which is remarkable in its thoughtful layout and beautiful functionality, and Emma explained the painstaking measures being taken by NTS to conserve the original decoration.

Amazing as the inside was, Friends were also able to appreciate another aspect of the Hill House. The original render, cutting-edge and experimental in its time, is no match for the west coast weather, especially in the changing climate, and to prevent further degradation to the fabric of the building, a huge steel and chain-mail box has been constructed around the house while decisions are made by NTS on the best course of action. This affords visitors the incredible opportunity to scale the exterior to above roof height and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the curves and angles of CRM’s design.

Despite the weather, some Friends also took the chance to explore the beautiful gardens, and after a delicious lunch and a browse round the tempting gift shop, we travelled back to Glasgow.

We were incredibly fortunate to have Margaret Anderson as our onboard tour guide, and we were treated to fascinating commentaries both there and back (our journey west took us on a detour through Dumbarton, passing St Augustine’s Episcopal Church in which Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald were married).

Many thanks to Margaret, to our lovely and extremely obliging driver Jonathan, and to all the team at the Hill House for making this such a successful and enjoyable day.

Become a Friend

Join our friendly, informative, interesting and sociable society. Membership of FoGM is open to everyone over the age of 18.

Join Us