22 Apr 2021

Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865-1945) was an Arts and Crafts designer and prolific architect. He designed and furnished almost 300 dwellings in his lifetime, one of the most important of which is at Blackwell, Cumbria. The Tudor-style antique dining chairs and simple Arts & Crafts furniture show perfectly his transition from Victorian to Modern design.

M.H. Baille Scott was born in Ramsgate, Kent. The son of a sheep farmer, he studied at agricultural college before deciding to follow a career in architecture. Having trained in Bath, he moved to the Isle of Man following his marriage in 1889. His 12 years here were the most important in terms of his architectural development. He joined the Arts and Crafts movement, being influenced by Morris, Mackintosh and John Ruskin. However, the antique dining tables , chairs and other furniture produced by Baillie Scott show a distinct style of his own.

Initially, Baillie Scott worked as a civil engineer. He spent time at Isle of Man School of Art, becoming friends with artist and designer Archibald Knox, who worked on some of his interiors. Scott built and furnished a number of properties on the island, including his own home in Douglas. He returned to England in 1900, working there until 1939.

Baillie Scott believed in harmony and integration of design. He became known for his simple open-plan style of architecture and precise level of craftsmanship, which would see him spending many hours planning his buildings and interiors. However, this didn’t happen immediately. His early architecture and interiors were ornate and mediaeval. Later, however, he developed a simpler style in which the Arts and Crafts philosophy of precise craftsmanship and honesty to function were key.

Nowhere is this transition seen better than at Blackwell, Cumbria. The antique dining tables, chairs and carved oak panelling of his early rooms are typical of the Victorian Gothic period which influenced his style in 1897. However, rooms designed in 1899 – 1900 are open plan and modern in style, with Arts & Crafts furniture inspired by Morris and Ruskin, who lived in Cumbria.

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