Today, we continued the Charles Rennie Mackintosh theme by visiting the Willow Tea Rooms, located at 217 Sauchiehall St. in Glasgow, “Sauchiehall” means ‘alley of the willows’ and throughout the rooms Mackintosh used the willow motif.

Catherine Cranston more or less invented the Glasgow tea room phenomenon. She filled the need for a miniature social centre which served many purposes but principally as a safe meeting place.The Tea Rooms uniquely offered ladies rooms where respectable women could go out and meet, at a time when women without men in the urban scene were usually taken for servants or prostitutes. These were not cafes, but offered a range of privacies in the public world: rooms for lunch or private dining, rooms to read and write, to play billiards or smoke. They were almost clubs, without bedrooms and without alcohol.

For 21 years Mackintosh was Catherine Cranston’s designer from 1897.

At Buchanan Street, he designed murals around George Walton furniture.

At Argyle Street, it was his loose furniture and light fittings within Walton’s interior scheme.

At Imgram Street, he designed his first complete room, where from 1900, he remodeled interiors over 12 years.

Finally in 1903-1904 at Sauchiehall Street, he did the complete interiors and front facade of the building Miss Cranston bought in 1901. To Mackintosh the tea room offered the most completed public space of his career.

These Tea Rooms are well a worth a visit when in Glasgow, just a short walk from the City centre.

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