Northampton's Mackintosh-designed Art Deco house named as UK's best 'hidden gem'
A Northampton tourist attraction has been recognised as the best heritage 'hidden gem' in the UK as part of a prestigious awards.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed 78 Derngate has been named as winner of the Hidden Gem category at the UK Heritage Awards 2019.
The trophies were handed out at a ceremony celebrating the best heritage experiences and places to stay in the UK at Grocer’s Hall in London.
And the Northampton attraction was in good company - with other category winners including landmarks such as Hever Castle in Kent and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
Grade Two listed 78 Derngate is the only house in England to have been designed by the world-renowned Scottish architect, designer, watercolourist and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
House manager Liz Jansson said she was thrilled at receiving the award.
She said: "It's great news, it was totally unexpected.
"We got an email on the 25th of March saying we had been shortlisted, then we couldn't believe it when we won the trophy.
"It is really good because we can use it on all our promotional literature."
The Georgian house – adjoining a visitor centre at 80 Derngate – has been open to tourists in its current guise since 2003, following a £1.4 million restoration project.
It was originally transformed into the Art Deco style by Mackintosh between 1916 and 1917 after being commissioned by its owner - the model maker Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke.
The house’s later history saw it pass out of the hands of the Bassett-Lowke family and in 1964, it became the base for Northampton High School.
Currently, the 78 Derngate Northampton Trust, which runs the attraction, is looking to expand the atrium area of the home by using a £200,000 grant from the borough council and by raising a further £200,000 from donations.
The UK Heritage Awards are run by Visit Heritage, which publishes the Hudson’s guide.