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Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott

Epithet: 'Arts and Crafts' architect (1865-1945)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: From ‘New Manx Worthies’ (2006):

The eldest child of a wealthy Scottish laird, also named Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, whose family is numbered variously at either nine or fourteen, believed he was to complete his education at Cambridge University. However his father, intending that his eldest son should manage the family sheep farm in Australia, sent him off in October 1883 to Cirencester. Two years later, Baillie Scott left with honours in science and drawing as part of a degree in scientific farming and estate management. He also acquired a feeling for the countryside, a love which was to influence his ideas in the use of materials and methods in his future architectural career.

From early on, Baillie Scott showed an interest in the arts, particularly by sketching the buildings and landscapes of the Sussex countryside. It is said that the impetus for a change in direction came in early 1886 during a visit to London, when Baillie Scott became enthralled by the Gilbert and Sullivan operas being performed at the Savoy Theatre. He argued that the planned move to the Australian outback would ensure there would be no chance of contact with such experiences.

His argument was heeded for, from 1886 to 1889, he was articled to Major C.E. Davis, the city architect of Bath, who sadly had little to offer. Unhappily, Major Davis's high Victorian ideas did not coincide with his pupil's, nor was the 'Colonel', as he was pleased to call himself, a likeable character. Davis's restoration of the newly discovered Roman Baths was strongly criticised.

While in Bath Baillie Scott stayed for about a year with Stephen Rawlings, a stonemason and builder, from whom he surely would have gleaned much practical knowledge. Later he would draw on his knowledge of flooring materials, knowledge gained during the time in his apprenticeship spent in recording the Roman tessellated pavements discovered during the Bath excavations.

It was in Bath that Bailie Scott met his wife Florence Kate Nash, a descendant of the Regency dandy Beau Nash. After their marriage at Batheaston in 1889, they set off for a holiday in the Isle of Man. As he joked in later years, after being very seasick during the voyage he could not face another trip back across the Irish Sea, and their stay on the Island lengthened to twelve years.

Initially Baillie Scott worked in the office of a land agent and surveyor, Fred Saunderson, at 7 Athol Street in Douglas. In 1891, after study at the Isle of Man School of Art, he was awarded the art class teacher's certificate; he was a talented artist, his work appearing in exhibitions of the Island's Fine Art and Industrial Guild and in the Architectural Room of the Royal Academy of Arts. Teaching at the School of Art was Archibald Knox who, it seems, later worked on interior details of some of Baillie Scott's house designs. Baillie Scott set up his own architectural practice at 23 Athol Street, Douglas, but once his Red House in Victoria Road, Douglas was built in 1893, he operated from there. His earliest work on the Island is believed to be the office at Braddan Cemetery, built in 1892. Other Baillie Scott commissions to be seen on the Island include: Groudle Glen Hotel, 1893, Bishopscourt model farm, 1893-94; Ivydene, Little Switzerland, and Oakleigh, Glencrutchery Road, 1893-4; Myrtle Bank and Holly Bank, Little Switzerland, Douglas, 1895-6; Leafield and Braeside, King Edward Road, Onchan, 1896-7; Falcon Cliff Terrace, Douglas, 1897-8; Onchan Church Hall, 1898 and Castletown Police Station, 1901. MacAndrew House, the centre portion of the Majestic Hotel, 1892-3, was demolished to make way for a development of luxury apartments at the beginning of the 21st century.

When designs for a number of dwellings on the Island in the American so-called shingle style of architecture did not result in construction, Scott turned to the Arts and Crafts movement. After his article on 'An Ideal Suburban House' appeared in The Studio magazine, off-Island commissions began to come in. Bexton Croft, Knutsford, Cheshire (1894-96) was the first of these. Farther afield, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland and North America, in both Canada and the United States, are all reported as having Bailie Scott buildings. Among the most prestigious of these is the 1896 commission for the Belgian painter Willy Schlobach's The Artist's House in Brussels. In 1897 came the redecoration and furnishing of the main rooms of the Grand Duke of Hessen's palace at Darmstadt, Germany. This commission attracted a great deal of attention, influencing the work of many German and Austrian architects. The next year, another member of the Hessen family, Princess Marie of Romania, asked for the redecoration of her tree-house retreat in Romania.

Baillie Scott cooperated in many of his commissions with other designers and craft workers, including his wife Florence, an embroiderer. Also included was Manx builder and joiner Robert Fargher Douglas, who made a chair for Le Nid, Princess Marie's retreat, which formed part of one of the Fine Art and Industrial Guild's exhibitions at Douglas. Douglas built Braeside and Leafield, houses on Onchan Head, judged to be among Baillie Scott's finest productions.

Baillie Scott's 1901 entry Dulce Domum in the 'House for an Art Lover' competition run by a German magazine gained top marks, but as no first prize was awarded, the prize money was divided amongst the 'losers' who included Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

In 1901 the Scott family moved off the Island to Bedford. This was partly due to the number of commissions coming from England, but Baillie Scott was also upset by what he considered to be imitative building developments on the Island by various people, including his collaborator, R.F. Douglas.

Important amongst his English commissions were furniture designs for White's of Bond Street, whose catalogue included over 100 Baillie Scott items. Liberty's also stocked these designs and it was probably through Baillie Scott that Archibald Knox began his connection with Liberty.

The Island is privileged to have so many examples of the work of this underrated architect, whose artistic creations are preserved for us to relish and enjoy.

Biography written by Leslie Quilliam.

(With thanks to Culture Vannin as publishers of the book: Kelly, Dollin (general editor), ‘New Manx Worthies’, Manx Heritage Foundation/Culture Vannin, 2006, pp.420-1.)

Culture Vannin


Occupation / profession: Architect

Nationality: English

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 2 October 1865

Date of death: 10 February 1945


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I am a volunteer guide at Blackwell Arts and Craft house in Windermere, Cumbria and trying to find as much information on Baillie Scott as possible but it seems difficult to find. Blackwell obviously has a reasonable amount of information but, if you had anything else on the life of Baillie Scott and his work with furniture as well as buildings or could recommend a website or book, I would be most grateful. Thank you - Valerie Wood Report this