Inside Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms

Inside Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow

This evening, I am focusing on perhaps the most celebrated tea rooms in Glasgow, namely the Willow Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street.  The interior and facade were designed by Glasgow’s most famous architect/designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) whose key achievement was the design of places to be inhabited. The street name ‘Sauchiehall’  means ‘alley of the willows’ and throughout the rooms Mackintosh used the willow motif.

Mackintosh was commissioned by Catherine Cranston, a lady who was at the forefront of the tea room phenomenon. The rooms provided a secure and respectable social centre where ladies of the day could venture out and meet at a time when ladies out alone were considered to be either servants or of dubious morality.

The tea rooms were not akin to modern day cafes but offered private facilities for dining, reading, writing, billiards and smoking. No alcohol was permitted.

Mackintosh was Catherine Cranston’s designer for 21 years from 1897. Here, at Sauchiehall Street, he designed the complete interiors and front facade of the building which Miss Cranston bought in 1901.

Mackintosh has left a considerable legacy of his work in and around Glasgow. The Willow Tea Rooms afford a pleasant spot for refreshment after conclusion of a Mackintosh themed architecture tour.

Inside Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms

Inside Mackintosh's Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow

External facade.  The ground floor is occupied by a jeweller.

Willow Tea Rooms by C.R. Mackintosh

Willow Tea Rooms by C.R. Mackintosh, Glasgow

Elsewhere today, I have been occupied on a number of tour related tasks including an interesting enquiry from a history group keen to visit the Famous Kilmartin Glen (valley) in the West of Scotland which is full of prehistoric standing stones, stone circles, burial cairns and rock art. Initial response to my proposal has been encouraging. Also quoted for a private tour of the English Cotswolds.

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