WILLOW TEA ROOMS

WHERE IS IT? The remaining two tea rooms are located on Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street (map shows the latter)

Designed by Mackintosh and built in 1903, the Willow Tea Rooms are one of four tearooms that the architect had a hand in, usually with the aid of his wife, Margaret MacDonald.



The tea rooms were the brainchild of Catherine Cranston, the daughter of a tea merchant and follower of the temperance movement. She became a patron of Mackintosh so he may design the tearooms; places where people could escape Glasgow’s drinking culture and enjoy non-alcoholic refreshments in a variety of rooms within the same building.

The most famous of these is the Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall Street, a short stroll from Mackintosh’s most famous building, the Glasgow School of Art. The building was formerly a warehouse. For their design, Mackintosh and his wife Margaret took their inspiration from the street name, with ‘Sauch,’ meaning willow in the Lowland Scots language. It included a number of different rooms, chief among them the Room de Luxe; a more expensive tearoom decorated in purple and grey. It features the typical high back Mackintosh chairs, and while the walls were white, one was decorated by Margaret MacDonald’s famous gesso panel, which was inspired by the sonnet “O Ye, All Ye That Walk in Willow Woods” by English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The exterior reveals Mackintosh’s early flirtations with Art Nouveau, including the slightly curved bay window for the Room de Luxe on the second floor.


A second Willow Tearooms exists on Buchannan Street, around the corner from The Lighthouse, another Mackintosh design. The third, the Crown Luncheon Room, is now Cranston House, a series of storefronts including Schuh and T-Mobile, and home to Sloans weekend market and bar.


The last, Miss Cranston’s Tearooms on Ingram Street, was bought by Glasgow Corporation in the 1950s to be used as a storeroom and was eventually demolished twenty years later. However, Glasgow Museums managed to save many of the artefacts and interiors, although they are not currently on display.



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