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Trip to 78 Derngate & Milton Keynes


We were given a warm welcome and immediately divided into three groups for our tours. Several of us had been before, but the detailed information we were given by our guides was much appreciated.

The history and the process of the restoration was explained. Luckily, the owner, Basset-Lowke was a keen photographer, so photographs exist of every room as well as the scale drawings of CR Mackintosh. Some items of furniture, such as the dresser in the kitchen and the dressing table in the bedroom, have been recreated as replicas whilst other items such as the jug and bowl in the bedroom were found in a sale.

There was a lot of careful thought given to built-in items of everyday use - such as a coal scuttle by the dining room fireplace, and exquisite craftsmanship was visible everywhere - down to hand wrought window fixings in the same room.

The contrasts of taste on show were remarkable. The guides put this down to the choice of the lady of the house in the more private living rooms, with CR Mackintosh’s designs dominating the guest bedroom and the front parlour.

Often described as a ‘Marmite house’ we all enjoyed the history, the human stories, the kitchen and the dining room. When it came to the front parlour we were amazed by its audacity, but not sure we would choose to live in it.                                            



We began our visit at Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre which since 1992 has been based at the  medieval site of Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes. We were given a very illuminating talk by Ian Haynes, a retired planner, who explained the underlying planning concepts of the city.

We then set off for a guided coach tour of Milton Keynes. We all knew of this city of roads and roundabouts, built for the car, but when we were taken off into several “grid squares” it was a complete revelation. Instead of ‘housing estates’ we saw delightful, characterful communities with well planned facilities for all ages. Many of us left with the idea that this was a good place to live after all.

We were dropped off at the Milton Keynes Gallery where we had come to see the new extension and the Stubbs exhibition. Some members took the opportunity to go under the main road and across to the “Milton Keynes Rose” a new and spectacular public place in Central Milton Keynes, which is available to everyone for celebration, commemoration and contemplation. It is a place where hundreds can gather to mark Armistice Day or one person can remember another in a personal moment. It consists of a vast and impressive open-air circle with markings based on the mathematical beauty of a flower. Granite pillars are inscribed with dates of events that have local, national or international significance.

I was inspired by the exterior of the gallery as you can see by my photographs. The white box I thought I was going to see was in fact covered in highly polished corrugated metal. The reflections in the cladding and the large circular glass window as the sun was low in the sky were wonderful.

The interior of the gallery was a series of white rooms well placed to display the Stubbs exhibition. A mounted skeleton of a horse gave a fascinating insight into the comparative anatomies of humans and horses.                                    


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