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The Hill House, Helensburgh

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  • Address: Upper Colquhoun St, Helensburgh G84 9AJ, United Kingdom

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Most of Mackintosh’s best known buildings are in or very near Glasgow city centre. But travel 20 miles west along the Clyde and you come to an altogether different setting. In 1902, Walter Blackie, director of the well-known Glasgow publishers, commissioned Mackintosh to build a new family home, in the leafy town of Helensburgh, overlooking the Firth of Clyde. The commission extended to the gardens and much of the furniture, as well as the interior fittings and decoration, all of which have been sympathetically reinstated or restored.

Considered to be Mackintosh’s finest domestic work, The Hill House was finished in 1904 and is now in the care of The National Trust for Scotland.

Walter Blackie later wrote that, when Mackintosh handed the house over to the family, he’d said: "Here is the house. It is not an Italian Villa, an English Mansion House, a Swiss Chalet, or a Scottish Castle. It is a Dwelling House", which shows that the famous architect thought of his new building as first and foremost a family home.

You can spend a very pleasant afternoon here, enjoying the house and wandering round the beautiful gardens. There’s also an excellent tearoom and National Trust shop, selling Mackintosh-inspired goods and items by contemporary designers. Check for opening times and prices here. Planning is also underway to construct a see-through enclosure to protect this treasure from further damage, with the box shelter providing visitors with an opportunity to see the building from a new perspective on the walkways to rooftop level.

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