This is the earliest surviving correspondence between W.J Bassett-Lowke and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Dated 31st July 1916 and on notepaper carrying Bassett-Lowke’s distinctive company letter heading, only the first page of the letter is known to survive. The purpose of the letter is to give Mackintosh an update on the progress of the work on 78 Derngate, clarify Bassett-Lowke’s requirements for certain aspects of Mackintosh’s scheme for the interior of the house and also to seek his views on other suggestions. The original letter remained in the personal possession of Mackintosh, became part of his estate after his death and is now in the collection of The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow .
Bassett-Lowke refers to Mackintosh’s letters of 28th and 29th of July ( these are untraced ). He notes that he has taken possession of the house that day and has received Mackintosh’s drawings. He states that ‘my friends are commencing the work’. Further details are given of his preferences for ‘the door’ and the design and fitting of carpets for the dining room and the stairs. He mentions that he has included a sample of stair carpet for Mackintosh’s consideration.
“Dear Mr Mackintosh
Many thanks for yours of the 28th inst., and 29th, all the drawings have safely arrived and the work is in hand. I have obtained possession of the house today and my friends are commencing the work, and should be glad if you will let me know about the floor of the hall. It appears to me from your drawings of the carpet, it is hardly necessary to have this covered with oak as so little will be seen. I shall be glad to have a line from you on this matter.
With reference to the carpet, I presume that you advise the bass mat being sunk but would not the stair carpet be better the standard 22” wide as you cannot get it 2ft. Personally I am not keen on hair carpet for the stairs but thought of having something of a Brussels, like the enclosed which I think can be obtained in black. I am still in doubts as to whether we are doing right by having a curtain across the hall, I still think it would be better if you design a screen for the door, say about 3ft long and 7ft high and about 6” back and re hang the door so that opens back against the wall.
With reference to the door, I do not think I shall alter this except with regards the fan light and the top panels of the door. I certainly prefer” [ends]
1. Image and information reproduced by kind permission of and is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow. Clicking on the catalogue number link below will take you to the Hunterian website where further information may be available. All enquiries about usage of this image, access to the original work and information should be directed to The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.
The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery catalogue information.
Typewritten letter, from Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke, Northampton, to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London, 31 July 1916.
CRE Basset-Lowke, Wenman Joseph (1877-1953).
black typewriter ribbon ink on paper 25.2 x 20.6.
Catalogue number: 41411