Tea rooms first rose to popularity in the 1830s as an alternative to the pub during the temperance movement. In Glasgow, it was 'Miss Cranston’s' (1849-1934) chain of shops which helped to develop tea room model during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Many of her premises designed Mackintosh (1868-1928), who also went on to redecorate and design new furniture for the mansion Hous’hill in Nitshill, where ‘Miss Cranston’ lived with her husband John Cochrane.
On August 11, one of the cabinets from that house will go under the hammer at the Cambridge auction house. The oak upright cabinet is originally one of a pair from the ‘Blue Bedroom’ of the home. Though it is being presented without estimate, bidding is currently anticipated to start at £6000 depending on interest.
Though it is missing its original stained glass and mother of pearl inset and has a damaged handle, the structure is catalogued as being in generally good condition. Cranston left Hous’hill in 1919, leaving the furniture in it. It eventually passed to Edward Arthur Gamble and was then auctioned by J and R Edminston in 1933. The cabinet was found in a house 10 miles from the saleroom and is offered with no reserve.
Among the tea rooms that Mackintosh worked on for Cranston were those at Ingram Street, the Willow Tea Rooms and the Dutch Kitchen at Argyle Street.
For her premises on Buchanan Street, he completed a set of wall murals consisting of stencilled friezes that depict elongated female figures.
“In no other town can you see in a place of refreshment such ingenious and beautiful decorations,” one contemporary commentator wrote of the tea shop. “It has caused the Glasgow man of the better sort to coin a new adjective denoting the height of beauty…’It’s quite Kate Cranston-ish!’”