- Visitors. Find out how to purchase tickets for guided tours, opening times and prices, directions to Dumfries House and other useful information. Please note that entry to the main house is by guided tour only. Tours daily throughout the Summer season, with weekends only during the Winter season. Please note that dates and timings given are for guidance and are subject to change. We recommend pre-booking. If in doubt please check the website or call 01290 421742 for latest details.
- Dumfries House
- Charles saves Dumfries House at 11th hour
Visitors. Find out how to purchase tickets for guided tours, opening times and prices, directions to Dumfries House and other useful information. Please note that entry to the main house is by guided tour only. Tours daily throughout the Summer season, with weekends only during the Winter season. Please note that dates and timings given are for guidance and are subject to change. We recommend pre-booking. If in doubt please check the website or call 01290 421742 for latest details.
There are no cloakroom facilities within the House for the storage of visitor’s property. We therefore ask that large or bulky items such as rucksacks are not brought into the House.
As often found in historic properties, some floor surfaces may be worn or uneven. It is therefore advised that you wear appropriate comfortable footwear. In order to protect the fabric of the House, footwear with a heel size less than a £2 coin is not permitted.
Digital, film or video photography of any kind is not permitted within the House.
No food or liquids may be carried or consumed while taking part in a tour. Guests with a medical need to carry or consume foodstuffs and liquids or to have with them medical equipment should alert a member of staff on arrival.
Childrens’ pushchairs cannot be accommodated on the tour route. There is free parking on the estate. Please read and follow signs and in case of difficulty, contact a member of staff.
In 2007, The Prince of Wales (known as The Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland) became aware of an estate in Ayrshire called Dumfries House. Threatened with sale and dispersal, His Royal Highness led a consortium of organisations and individuals in a passionate campaign for its rescue.
From the outset the Trust had two main objectives; first, to launch Dumfries House as a public visitor attraction and, second, to create an infrastructure which would act as a catalyst for the socio-economic, cultural, and educational regeneration of this part of Scotland.
In 2017, The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay celebrated 10 years of Dumfries House with a series of events.
An article by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, for the Winter 2016 issue of Dumfries House Magazine
“I can scarcely believe that this publication is on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust. What an astonishing amount has happened in the last decade! I look back to those very early days with immense relief at the extraordinary reality that we did, indeed, save the House and its marvellous contents, but then there was the frightening thought about the road ahead. First of all, the small matter of repaying the loan had to be dealt with and then, as we looked more closely at the House and the infrastructure, the challenge of discovering just how much needed to be done. As you will see in this publication, the restoration of the collection was at the forefront of everyone’s mind but, needless to say, rather more prosaic matters such as heating, lighting and hot and cold water were pretty important and needed to be fixed as well.
“The House very quickly began to take shape as rooms were restored and items of furniture were re-presented, thanks to some remarkably generous donors and sponsors.
“The enthusiastic support from local people, and from our very first Guides, was incredibly heartwarming. Everyone exuded such a sense of optimism as to what could be achieved, but I could never have foreseen that this same optimism and enthusiasm would still be at the same high level ten years on. This project has been as much about people as it has about a physical place. The way that our local communities and our employees speak with such pride as to what has been achieved is enormously rewarding and wonderfully motivating.
The Duke of Rothesay visits the Morphy Richards Engineering Education Centre at the Dumfries House Estate
“As I walk around the estate now, I find it harder and harder to remember how it was without the paths and roads, the new planting and restored features – but, most of all, without the incredible array of buildings for education, recreation and training for future employment.
“Each time we tackled something it seemed it was the most important thing we had ever undertaken; such as the early days of the creation of the Coach House Café, the Visitor Centre, the Sawmill and the Laundry (which was a roofless ruin with trees growing out of the walls), not to mention the new buildings we erected to create the Cookschool and Engineering Centre. All rather paled into insignificance when we faced the task of restoring the Walled Garden which, in itself, turned out to be an amazing feat of engineering. Before long, the Temple was painstakingly being restored to its former glory at the same time as we witnessed the addition of the Bunkhouse and Sports Hall.
“This year, of course, was made even more special with the re-opening of New Cumnock Town Hall – the very first project in our heritage-led regeneration work in surrounding communities. Tantalisingly, the re-opening of a restored and rejuvenated New Cumnock Outdoor Swimming Pool is ahead of us for next year…!
“Of course, as I mentioned earlier, all of this is about people. We now have over 150 employees and thousands of individuals using the estate. My hope, therefore, is that this publication can help to involve a wider audience of supporters by providing an insight to all that happens on this estate and to its even more important outreach work.”
Charles saves Dumfries House at 11th hour
David Barrie, the director of the charity, said the Prince had “descended from the clouds” two weeks ago when it looked like the attempt to retain the home and its rare contents was doomed.
A range of charities and heritage bodies contributed £25 million to the rescue package, but the sale was secured with a £ 20 million cheque from the Prince’s Charities Foundation. The sum covers the purchase of the house, its Rococo furniture and 2,000 acres of land near Cumnock, Ayrshire, as well as the creation of the trust that will run it as a visitor attraction.
The contents of the Adam-designed home, which has been described as an 18th century time capsule, include one of the greatest collections of Thomas Chippendale furniture, which was attracting huge interest from potential buyers around the world.
The 21-bedroom property – with seven bedrooms for servants – was put on the market by the former Formula 1 racing driver Johnny Bute, who has been described as Britain’s most reluctant aristocrat.
He prefers not to use his title, the 7th Marquis of Bute, and won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1988 while competing as Johnny Dumfries.
One of Scotland’s richest men, Lord Bute said the sale was necessary in order to “restructure family finances” and devolve assets to the next generation. His ancestral home is Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute and he said Dumfries House – which was the home of his grandmother, Eileen, Dowager Marchioness of Bute, until her death in 1993 – was “not considered central to Bute family heritage”. Its value lies in the fact that the building itself and its contents have been kept unchanged for 250 years. The furniture was commissioned for the rooms, and the collection is in perfect condition.
Lord Bute welcomed the deal and the formation of the trust that will run it – the Great Steward’s Dumfries House Trust – and praised the Prince for his intervention.
Mark Leishman, the Prince’s deputy private secretary, said Prince Charles was “very relieved” that the house has been saved, and grateful to all those who have worked on the deal.
He added: “The Prince was aware of the story of the house over the recent years and was determined to do something to save it for the nation, first of all because of its historic significance and extraordinary contents. Almost as important is the fact that the house and its contents will become a driver for the economic regeneration of this part of south-west Scotland.”
Mr Barrie said the group that concluded the deal was responsible for “one of the most amazing heritage saves in living memory”.
He added: “It is the most astonishing jewel casket, a 1750s Adam house that has hardly ever been lived in with a completely intact suite of furniture including this incredible group of early Chippendale furniture as well as wonderful work by his contemparies in Edinburgh.
“It has always been an astonishing secret because although it has been sitting there for 250 years it is effectively unknown to the general public.
“Entering the house is like stepping back in time, it is like a lightning flash illuminating all that the very best taste and money could buy during the period of the Scottish Enlightenment.
“But the public have never seen it, even furniture experts have never been in it, and people’s jaws will drop when they walk through its doors next year.
“Last Thursday we were left with just the weekend to conclude the extremely complex negotiations and we have been working day and night to make it happen at the 11th hour and the 59th minute and the 59th second.”
The house – which was to be sold by Savills, and the furniture, which was to be auctioned by Christie’s – were commissioned by the 5th Earl of Dumfries in the 1750s and its contents have barely changed since an 1803 inventory.
They include Axminster carpets, George II steel fireplace furniture and eight George II four-poster beds.
A Chippendale rosewood breakfront bookcase, which cost £47 in 1759, was expected to fetch between £2 million and £4 million at auction. The property was designed by the Adam brothers, John, Robert and James, and in addition to the Chippendale pieces, it contains work by three Edinburgh furniture makers, William Mathie, Alexander Peter and Francis Brodie.
The £25 million contribution came from The Monument Trust (£9 million), The National Heritage Memorial Fund (£7 million), The Scottish Executive (£5 million), The Art Fund (£2.25 million), The Garfield Weston Foundation (£1 million); Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement (£250,000), and the Dunard Fund (£125,000).
Marcus Binney, president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which launched the campaign, said the dispersal of one of the finest collections of great furniture in the UK had been averted at the last moment thanks to the Prince.
Alex Salmond, the First Minister, said he was delighted at the outcome of the bid, and hoped the project could boost tourism in that part of Scotland.
He added: “The house and its exquisite furniture collection are internationally acclaimed, a world-class product of the Scottish Enlightenment. I want them to become a showcase for a newly confident Scotland.”
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2018 was a year of royal wedding fever, and anyone looking to replicate some of the magic can now get a tiny bit closer, as the Prince of Wales is planning to open a new wedding venue on his Scottish estate, Dumfries House. Although the Prince is not in residence on the estate, he has a major hand in its running, having organised the campaign to save the grand Palladian house when it was up for sale in 2007.
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Renderings of the new pavilion and the walled garden
The estate already plays host to weddings as part of the effort to make it a commercially viable enterprise. Currently the Tapestry Room hosts wedding ceremonies, and receptions take place in a a marquee next to the main house. The new permanent wedding venue will be built in woodland near to the house and will be able to host around 200 guests. There will also be a walled garden alongside it for outdoor receptions.
There is plenty on the estate to interest visitors, including an educational farm, where Prince Charles’ dedication to sustainable and organic farming is put into practice, a renowned collection of eighteenth-century furniture, a maze, and a 5-star guest house.
For more information about weddings and events at Dumfries House, visit dumfries-house.org.uk.
All the most memorable moments from the Royal wedding
All the most memorable moments from the Royal wedding
- Royal News
- 20 May 2018
- 41 items