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Dumfries House

Cumnock
 
Home » Attraction » Dumfries House

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Phone:
01290 425 959

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Address:
Dumfries House

Cumnock
KA18 2NJ


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Dumfries House

You wouldn’t think it to look at it now, with its tranquil grounds and elegant drawing rooms, but the fate of one of Scotland’s grandest country houses hung in the balance not so long ago. Designed by venerated 18th century architects the Adams brothers, Dumfries House – once the playground of Britain’s richest landowners, the Marquesses of Bute – faced an uncertain future in 2007, while all of its cultural riches risked being divided up and sold off.

A royal intervention at the eleventh hour brought the drama to an end – but also marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter for one of the UK’s true gems. In a bid to avoid calamity with the scattering of a precious cultural treasure trove, Prince Charles brought together heritage bodies and benefactors under the auspices of the newly-founded Dumfries House Trust to purchase the estate, stopping truckloads of furnishings in their tracks en route to Christie’s auction house in London.

Dumfries House has a fascinating history with the artefacts inside a testament to its long and chequered past. Built in the 1750s for William Crichton Dalrymple, the 5th Earl of Dumfries, and furnished with original Chippendale furniture delivered straight from the celebrated master cabinetmaker’s workshop, the house is something of a time capsule.

Following its acquisition by the consortium led by the HRH Princes of Wales, the estate re-opened in 2008 following a painstaking restoration. The crowning glory of the restoration remains the magnificent collection of some 50 pieces of Chippendale’s work, preserved examples of Britain’s finest ever craftmanship saved for the nation and visitors to Scotland to enjoy for centuries to come.

Beautiful when catching the sunlight, the baronial pile is a marvel both inside and out, with each of its beautifully appointed rooms giving up the secrets of the Earls of Dumfries and later the Bute family who once called Dumfries House home.

While the mansion house is itself a huge draw, the sprawling 2,000-acre estate that envelopes it has taken on a lifeforce of its own, becoming one of the nerve centres for the important philanthropic work of the Prince’s Foundation. Nestled amongst the expansive woodland, the outbuildings provide a home for an outpost of the Royal Drawing School, which offers residencies to talented young artists, as well as an engineering school and a hospitality school, all of which have been a boon to the regeneration of the local area.

A crucial part of the renaissance of the estate is, of course, Dumfries House Lodge, luxury accommodation occupying the factor’s former house which dates back to 1750. A charming bolthole within easy reach of Scotland’s Central Belt, the lodge has become somewhat of a sought-after rural retreat for couples looking to escape the jolt of city life.

Designed to be a home away from home, thanks in part to its welcoming cottage feel, the impressively large, airy rooms have been sensitively decorated with floral patterns and pastel shades as well as specifically selected antique furniture. Most of the 22 en-suite rooms open out onto a courtyard, with the blissful sound of the burn and the chorus of birds emanating from the woodland beyond. There are also two self-catering cottages on the property, ideal for families looking for a weekend getaway in the lowland countryside.

With trails and pathways snaking through acres of woodland, there are hours of entertainment to be had for people of all ages. While children will make a beeline for the adventure playground and oriental maze, the green-fingered amongst you will be drawn by the siren call of the Queen Elizabeth walled garden. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the estate, it was a flagship project of the extensive restoration of the estate which saw a five-acre derelict site transformed into a stunning walled garden replete with new terraces and greenhouses.

The produce grown in abundance in the furrows and beds of the garden are not just to look at. As if to emphasise the self-sufficiency of this entrepreneurial powerhouse, the vegetables are harvested and used at the estate’s Woodlands Restaurant, one of the its crowning glories. Using all locally sourced ingredients, the dishes that leave the pass of this fine dining establishment offer a reimagining of Scottish cuisine – and a taste of the fruits of labour that have seen the estate’s fortunes change for the better.

 

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