The Hill House – National Trust Scotland
As an avid fan of Charles Rennie-Macintosh & Mary Macdonald Macintosh I have wanted to visit The Hill House in Helensburgh for many years. Tucked away among the leafy quiet streets of Helensburgh we drove to the house and was pleasantly surprised! Here was a building that not only oozed design features from the start but it was presented as a practical, family home too. Designed for Walter Blackie and his family it was finished in 1904 and was at the cutting edge of modern design at the time.
Outside The Hill House
We parked in the car park situated behind the property and made our through the front gate. We thought it was a bit surreal because unlike other National Trust & National Trust Scotland properties we have visited before, this one is really just surrounded by other people’s houses! The grounds were large and well cared for, but also maintained the feeling that the owners of the house could still be living there. We enjoyed looking around the orchard and I really liked the area where the laundry would be hung out, it gave the house a ‘real’ feeling. The house itself was very impressive and looked like a Scottish baronial castle, with rendered walls and round turrets.
Inside The Hill House
Coming from the grand hallway and up the beautiful light fill stairwell we entered the more informal area of the house where the younger members of the family spent most of their time. We liked reading about how the Blackie family would have lived, especially the large window seat that the children used as a quiet area to read, a boat, and as a stage to act out plays and recitals! There was a spectacularly modern (for the time) bathroom and shower, although my son decided that the shower looked a bit too creepy for him to use! The bedrooms were beautifully decorated with soft furnishings and furniture. Our favourite bedroom was the boy’s room. It was the secret cupboard under the stairs designed as a place for him to keep his toys and books that made all of us feel that this was a real home not just a show house. This secret room was so well thought out, with light coming from a window into the hallway, my daughter declared that she wanted to move into the house and have that room!
This was the more formal area with a well stocked library, a beautifully decorated living room with music room attached and a large dining room. The design of the living area was so well thought out that it could easily have been a 21st Century room not one designed over 100 years ago. The dining room was slightly disappointing as this was not a Rennie Mackintosh design and I felt it was out-of-place with the rest of the house. However it did work as it showed the visitor the huge difference in taste and design between that of Rennie Mackintosh and the more traditional designs of the time.
The Kitchen and Domestic Area
Here The Hill House had converted the kitchen and the more domestic areas into a cafe and a gift shop. We enjoyed a well-earned cup of tea and a traditional shortbread biscuit before we purchased some souvenirs and ventured outside again to explore the gardens.
Outside in the Gardens
With plenty of walkways, sheltered areas and places to sit, it is a pleasant place to walk around. The children enjoyed running around on the lawn playing tag and hide and seek. It made me wonder if the children who used to live there had played the same sort of games all those years ago.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Hill House. It was a shame that we could not take photographs inside the house itself, we were left with the wonderful feeling of actually understanding how Rennie Mckintosh designs actually worked on a practical level too. We hope to return again soon and take some photographs of the gardens in the Autumn and the Spring.
This is a personal review made because I am an avid National Trust member and I believe that our family membership is value for money and enables us to visit places all over the UK. Please see my disclosure policy for further information.