A desk owned by the man who commissioned The Hill House has returned to the property for the first time in over 60 years.
When the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed house was completed in 1904, the desk was placed at the heart of the property’s library by owner, publisher Walter Blackie. It remained in The Hill House until Blackie’s death in 1953 when it was moved to the home of his daughter, also in Helensburgh.
The desk then passed to Walter’s granddaughter Ruth Currie in the 1970s. She offered to donate the desk to the National Trust for Scotland while the conservation charity was researching the Blackie family.
While The Hill House is a globally-significant example of Charles Rennie Mackintosh design vision, it was also a thriving family home. The home’s ornamental interior features many original pieces, from the embroidered hangings in the bedroom to the ‘Sleeping Princess’ panel above the fireplace in the boardroom and the iconic ladderback chairs.
While Mackintosh didn’t design the desk, it shows how pieces could fit within the house that was a home to Blackie, his wife Anna and their five children.
Ruth Currie recalls childhood trips to her grandfather’s home, saying: ‘I have happy memories of running up and down the the grid lines on the hall carpet and being shown books in the library where papers were piled high on the desk.
‘I’m very pleased to see my grandfather’s desk back in The Hill House library.’
Emma Sweeney, visitor services supervisor at The Hill House, added: ‘It’s important for us to remember that the purpose of The Hill House was first and foremost to be a family home.
‘We’re very grateful to Ruth for donating her grandfather’s desk to us, as having original items of furniture really helps us to tell the story of the Blackie family and maintain the aesthetics of the home as it stood in the 1900s.’
The National Trust for Scotland is taking a bold approach to conserving the house for future generations to admire and enjoy. The Hill House Box is an innovative solution to the problem of water damage at the Hill House, acting as a giant shield to permanently save the property and its irreplaceable collection.
For more information visit www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/the-hill-house