Mackintosh at the Willow joins National Trust for Scotland

Mackintosh at the Willow on Sauchiehall Street joins NTS

The famous Mackintosh-designed tea rooms on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow have joined the portfolio of buildings cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

Mackintosh at the Willow dates to 1903 and is the last remaining original of the several tea rooms designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald for Glasgow entrepreneur Miss Catherine (Kate) Cranston.

Mackintosh at the Willow was purchased, saved and restored by Celia Sinclair Thornqvist MBE and The Willow Tea Rooms Trust between 2014 and 2018, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and others, including Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow City Heritage Trust. The restoration resulted in one of the most spectacular heritage attractions in the city, restoring and re-creating the jewel-like interior designs and a frontage that pays testament to the unique vision of Mackintosh and Macdonald.

A detail of elaborate Mackintosh-designed entrance doors to a tea room. They are made of polished metal panels with green stylised roses on each side.
Image National Trust for Scotland
The black and white exterior of Mackintosh at the Willow, with little purple square tiles running across the width of the white wall. Small glass panels fill the upper area of the frontage.
Image National Trust for Scotland

Although the tea rooms have, in the last year, attracted over 230,000 visitors, the cumulative impacts of the disruption caused to Sauchiehall Street by the second fire at the Glasgow School of Art and the COVID pandemic had an adverse effect. As a consequence, given the importance of the site to Scotland’s national heritage, the National Trust for Scotland was approached last year to consider options that would ensure the tea rooms’ long-term security and sustainability.

Enabled by support from its members and donors, the National Trust for Scotland has been able to secure the property, with vital additional help given by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF), Glasgow City Council, Celia Sinclair Thornqvist MBE and her husband Rolf Thornqvist.

A view from the first floor balcony of the tea rooms, showing Mackintosh chairs arranged around a wooden floor. Long pendant ceiling lights hang down through the balcony space.

Inside the restored Mackintosh at the Willow

Image National Trust for Scotland

Phil Long OBE, the National Trust for Scotland’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Mackintosh is one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, respected internationally for his breathtaking and innovative design. People from around the world travel to Scotland to see his and his wife Margaret Macdonald’s brilliant work together. As the custodians of one of Mackintosh’s other rare masterpieces, the Hill House (on which Macdonald also collaborated), we see the acquisition of Mackintosh at the Willow as a perfect fit.

A man and a woman sit at a linen-covered table in a tea room, each holding a blue Willow tea cup and saucer. They are smiling at the photographer.

Celia Sinclair Thornqvist MBE with National Trust for Scotland Chief Executive Phil Long OBE at Mackintosh at the Willow.

Image National Trust for Scotland

ckintosh at the Willow will formally become one of the National Trust for Scotland’s properties with effect from Friday 19 January 2024. However, members of the Trust will be able to enjoy access to the property’s excellent exhibition for free from Friday 12 January.

Mackintosh at the Willow is at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Glasgow Foodie
Author: Glasgow Foodie

Writes for here and Foodie Explorers website. Usually found napping.

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