78 Derngate was built by William Mobbs in 1815-1820 as a typical early 19th Century brick terrace house. The house consisted of a basement kitchen and offices that opened onto a garden at the back of the house, two rooms on the ground floor, two upper floors with two bedrooms on each and an attic room with a dormer window was added to the building later. There was a small outdoor courtyard at the back with an outside toilet.
In 1916, 78 Derngate was bought by T.J. Lowke for his son W.J. Bassett-Lowke for his upcoming marriage in 1917 when his new wife Florence moved in. During the previous 9 months, Bassett-Lowke had the house completely redesigned and remodeled from an old fashioned house into a modern, Art Deco style home by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
There was an addition of a rectangular extension at the back of the building to allow extra space for the kitchen and dining room above. An enclosed balcony was created for the master bedroom and an open balcony for one of the guest rooms. It is the only example of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work in England. At the time, 78 Derngate was a very modern house, way ahead of its time in design and does not look out of place even in the present day.
The Bassett-Lowkes lived in the house until 1926 and has been sold on a number of occasions. The house was bought in 1964 by Northampton High School for Girls where they leased it for offices and used it for 6th form teaching rooms until they left in 1993. During this period, in 1965, 78 Derngate became a Grade II listed building. In 1996, Northampton Borough Council purchased a 999 year lease, then in 1998, the 78 Derngate trust, took a 99 year sub-lease to restore the house and open it to the public with the adjoining house 80 Derngate that is used as an exhibition space containing some of W.J. Bassett-Lowkes model trains. It was opened to the public in 2003.
This is an amazing place to visit with a beautiful interior. I even bought a lot of beautiful postcards when I visited a few years ago. Please look at the website: