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Dumfries House

  • Built / Designed For: 5th Earl of Dumfries

    House & Family History: The 5th Earl of Dumfries built Dumfries House in the mid-18th century, consulting Lord Burlington and Lord Hopetoun on the preliminary designs for the house. As built by the brothers Adam (the house is considered the finest commission of the brothers), Dumfries House is nine bays long with a pediment rising over three central bays and pavilions linked by quadrants (the second stories were added to the quadrants and pavilions in the 19th century). Dumfries later passed by marriage into the ownership of the Crichton-Stuart family, marquesses of Bute. In the summer of 2004 the 7th Marquess of Bute announced that the Dumfries House Estate would be put on the market in September 2004, with an auction of the contents planned by Christie's for summer 2005. The collection of British furniture at Dumfries was estimated by Christie's as probably the most valuable collection ever to come onto the market. The National Trust for Scotland, which was interested in acquiring the house and contents for the nation, withdrew from the acquisition process, acknowledging that it faced the unrealistic goal of raising an estimated £50 million to purchase the house, contents, and policies, plus establishing an endowment for future maintenance. On June 27, 2007 it was announced that a consortium, led by Charles, The Prince of Wales, and including various heritage charities and the Scottish government (£5 million from the Scottish Executive, £7 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and £2.25 million from The Art Fund), had raised £45 million to purchase Dumfries House and it contents, together with its 2,000-acre estate. The deal also formed a trust to own and run the property: The Great Steward of Scotland's Dumfries House Trust (today the Prince's Trust). The name of the trust was a reference to the title of Great Steward of Scotland held by Prince Charles in his role as the Scottish Duke of Rothesay. The saving of Dumfries would not have occurred without a £20 million loan guaranteed by the prince and his charitable foundations. The money raised by Prince Charles was repaid through fundraising and the development of 50 acres on the edge of the neighboring town of Cumnock, where a Scottish version of Poundbury, in Dorset, is to be built.

    Collections: The Jacopo Bassano canvas of "Laban and His Flock" was purchased by the 5th Earl of Dumfries in 1756 and is the only Venetian Renaissance painting in a Scottish house that remains where it was in the 18th century. Dumfries contains one of the finest collections of Chippendale furniture in the world, the majority of which has survived unaltered since the mid-18th century, when it was made for the house. Dumfries' collection of Chippendale represents the largest group of the cabinetmaker's documented Rococo furniture in private hands. The collection also contains important furniture by two of Chippendale's Edinburgh contemporaries, William Mathie and Alexander Peter. A fine set of Gobelins tapestries, given by Louis XIV to the 2nd Earl of Stair while he was ambassador to France, are still in place in Dumfries. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has had in its collection since 1943 a hall lantern commissioned by the 5th Earl of Dumfries for Dumfries House; the brass lantern of 1759 incorporates the Dumfries family's device of a wyvern. (We are grateful to Donna Corbin of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for this information on the Dumfries House lantern). Though it never occurred, there was scheduled a two-day auction of the contents of Dumfries to be held by Christie's on July 12 and 13, 2007, which was estimated to bring £17 million. The auction did not occur because of the 2007 last-minute rescue of the house by Charles, The Prince of Wales (the Christie's auction catalogs are now extremely rare and very collectible in their own right).

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The house today sits in a 2,000-acre estate.

  • Architect: John Peter Deering (Gandy)

    Date: 1827
    Designed: Lodge for 2nd Marquess of Bute

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    Architect: Robert Weir Schultz

    Date: 19th century
    Designed: Added second floor and domed towers to pavilions and quadrants

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    Architect: Adam Brothers

    Date: 1754-59
    Designed: House

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  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 388
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Dumfries House Guidebook
    Author: Binney, Marcus
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 19
    Publisher: London: Scala Publishers
    ISBN: 9781857595710
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: Christie's Auction Catalog: Dumfries House: A Chippendale Commission: Volume I, Jul 12, 2007
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 2007
    Reference: pgs. 7-8
    Publisher: London: Christie's
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Art Newspaper, The
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Jul-Aug 2004, pg. 47
    Publisher: London: Umberto Allemandi & Co.
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Newspaper

    Title: Classical Architecture in Britain: The Heroic Age
    Author: Worsley, Giles
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 269
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press (The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
    ISBN: 0300058969
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Category A

    Park Listed: Listed as a Garden & Designed Landscape

  • "Antiques Roadshow" (2008 - BBC TV series).
  • Current Seat / Home of: King Charles III

    Past Seat / Home of: William Dalrymple-Crichton, 5th Earl of Dumfries and 4th Earl of Stair, 1757-68; Patrick McDouall-Crichton, 6th Earl of Dumfries, 1768-1803; John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute and Lord Mount Stuart, 1803-48; John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, 1848-1900; John Crichton-Stuart, 4th Marquess of Bute, 1900-47; John Crichton-Stuart, 5th Marquess of Bute, 1947-56; John Crichton-Stuart, 6th Marquess of Bute, 1956-93; John Colum Crichton-Stuart, 7th Marquess of Bute, 1993-2007. Charles, Prince of Wales, 2007-22.

    Current Ownership Type: Preservation Organization

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

    Ownership Details: Owned and operated by The Prince’s Foundation

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01290-425-959

    Fax: 01290-425-464

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.dumfries-house.org.uk/

    Historic Houses Member: Yes


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