Glasgow – The Southern Necropolis – Sir Thomas Lipton


His vision was to make tea, a drink once exclusive to those who could afford it, available to the masses.  He was 40 years old, Glaswegian from no hint of upper crust upbringing and his name is synonymous with tea the world over (although I admit to being a Twininings person myself). Sir Thomas Lipton was certainly the face of tea for me growing up in the USA; and until Celestial Seasonings came along was probably the only tea I saw on the shelves.  His is the most illustrious grave in the Southern Necropolis, on the edge of The Gorbals (or as they now call it, “New Gorbals”).  The poor stepsister to The Necropolis on the hill above this city, this is the graveyard of the everyday Glaswegians tucked in amongst a housing estate and some large retail/industrial premises.  There is only one way in/out and it is divided into square sections.  Bring a snack. I wonder why his grave is here.  All the posh people of Glasgow; tobacco barons, bankers,  merchants – are all up on the hill at the Necropolis above the Glasgow Cathedral.  Perhaps he was a man of the people.  I daresay his legacy of tea for everyone has outlived some of the biggest and fanciest monuments I saw at the main Necropolis.

Tea magnate.

Tea magnate.

several were topped by this figurine


Willow Tea Room Tour – part of Creative Mackintosh Month in Glasgow

As part of Creative Mackintosh Month (October 2014), the Willow Tea Room offered tea and a tour,  hardly something that one could pass up – to both learn about Mackintosh and have a cup of tea in the same historical spot.  Ms. Sylvia Smith was a fountain of everything Mackintosh; a one-person archive of all things Cranston/Willow/MacK and MacD.

We started on the top floor, the billiard room where she told us the history of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms as they were known back then.

our knowledgeable tour guide for all things Mackintosh, Cranston and Willow!

our knowledgeable tour guide for all things Mackintosh, Cranston and Willow!

The art work of Mackintosh often represented nature, often as translated by the Druids. Willow and Mistletoe were sacred in their religion; and “Sauchiehall” means Willow in Druid-speak. Mistletoe was represented in the doors.

Green mistletoe on the windows on the door

drawing of Miss Cranston's chandelier which sported individual flowers.

Drawing of Miss Cranston’s chandelier. Made of glass and crystal, it was unfortunately put into the tip when the building was sold.

Miss Cranston came from a family of prohibition activists…which at the end of the day might have been a benefit to Mackintosh as he fell under the influence of drink to his art’s demise. Miss Cranston had a keen eye for business and a kind heart. She often took young women into her care giving them careers as waitresses in the tearooms (she had four) and a place in her home as well.
Cranston had an artists eye as well; giving Mackintosh free rein inside and out; and bringing her own style to the internal design. The chandelier was designed as a flowers, from which she each day placed flowers from her own garden into each vase overhead.

Tulip Lanterns

Not original; but true to original design. Also matched the earrings I wore that day…..

My Mackintosh inspired earrings….

My Mackintosh inspired earrings….

On the second floor, a room only for the ladies was designed in pale lavender. It cost a penny extra to eat in this room; women could conducted their business unencumbered by the male of the element. Original Mackintosh window.

Sacred to the Druids.  This is an original door; encased in protective casing.

Sacred to the Druids. This is an original door; encased in protective casing.

reflection of the Ladies' Room.  No, not meaning the loo.

reflection of the Ladies’ Room. No, not meaning the loo.

Original Mirror

If you stop by the Tearoom you are likely to see Sylvia; she can tell you more. I would hate to spoil the entire story – but can leave you with more photos to entice you to come in.

One of Mackintosh’s legacies, it also contains the genius of his wife; Margaret Macdonald. Mackintosh was quoted saying that, “he had talent; but Margaret had genius“.

I might agree; her work is marvellous.  Earthy.  Grounded, but with mystic.



Mackintosh inside and out!

Mackintosh inside and out!