History of Dumfries House.
This estate was originally named
Lochnorris or Lefnoreis, with the earliest
recorded owners being the Craufords
of Loudoun from the 1440s. The
Craufords main castle at that time was
Loudoun Castle, situated about 14 miles
north by the town of Galston. The Craufords
main castle now is Crawfurdland Castle about 8 miles
northeast by Kilmarnock.
The Crauford Castle in this estate,
named Lefnoreis Castle, was situated about
100 yards west of the present day Dumfries
House, little remains of that building
The estate passed from the Craufords in
1635 to William, 2nd Earl of Dumfries.
The present day Dumfries House was built
for William Dalrymple-Crichton, 5th Earl of
Dumfries (1699 – 1768).
The 5th Earl was a Scottish peer that
inherited the title of Earl of Dumfries in
1742, after the death of his mother
Penelope Crichton, 4th Countess of
The 5th Earl had served in the Army from
1721 to 1747. His retirement from the army
saw him settle in the estate and make plans
for a grand new house.
The 5th Earl contracted the Adam
brothers (Robert and John) to design a
Palladian style Mansion, with the building
completed in 1758.
The interior furniture was designed
specially at that time for each area of the
house. The furniture was from the finest
craftsmen of the day, including Thomas
Chippendale. Most of that furniture still
sits where it was placed after the house
The lands around the house were
re-designed at that time as well with a new
bridge over the river, and an avenue
running from the bridge to the house
flanked by Giant Redwood trees imported
from America in the 1800s.
The 7th Earl, born in 1793, was
the son of John, Lord Mount Stuart,
and Lady Elizabeth
Lord Mount Stuart owned the
impressive Mount Stuart mansion and
estate on the Isle of Bute, as seen
The 7th Earl's father died when he was a
few months old. He was then raised by his
mother and grandmother at Dumfries House
until their deaths. He was then raised by
his grandfather at Mount Stuart.
The 7th Earl of Dumfries, also the 2nd
Marquess of Bute, was known as Lord Mount
Stuart. He accumulated vast wealth by
developing coal and iron industries. His
most profitable area was South Wales, where
he was credited with building Cardiff
Lord Mount Stuart owned Dumfries House,
Mount Stuart, Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire,
Cardiff Castle in South Wales, and had a
London town house on Campden Hill in
There was a number of coal and iron
mines around Dumfries House, it is unclear
if the Earls of Dumfries were involved in
John Colum Crichton-Stuart, 7th Marquess
of Bute and 12th Earl of Dumfries, was born
in 1958. He is better known as Johnny
Dumfries, or John Bute, a British peer and
former F1 racing driver that won the 1988
24 Hours of Le Mans race.
The 12th Earl lives mainly in London,
and at times at Mount Stuart. His
grandmother lived at Dumfries House. The
death of his grandmother led to him putting
Dumfries House up for sale in 1994.
Talks with the National Trust For
Scotland fell through in 2007. Bute then
stated he was going to auction off the
furniture, then sell the house
Word of the furniture to be auctioned at
Christies, created vast interest from
around the world, but especially in
This was the sale of the century, with
the media and wealthy seeking more
I was approached by media companies for
images of Dumfries House at that time, as I
seemed to be the only person with high
resolution images of the building, taken
just a year or two before the furniture was
to be sold.
I had taken the images when
building up a section for my
website covering Ayrshire
The image right, in higher
resolution, was the one used by the
media covering the story of the
Dumfries House auction.
Once people saw the images of the
impressive house, and list of furniture to
be auctioned, many believed the house and
furniture should be kept together, to serve
as one of the top museums in the UK.
Prince Charles was one of these people,
helping form a consortium that bought the
house, its furniture and estate.
The house and furniture were restored
and opened to the public in the summer of
Ayrshire has a number of historic
castles and mansions, many that can be
The area has fertile land with many
estates built up from the 1100s by families
that fought alongside Scottish Kings. Their
reward was large estates so they could rent
out most of the land to farmers, leading to
a wealthy life. Two of the most prominent
of these families were Wallace and Bruce,
known for their roles in the Scottish Wars
John Colum Crichton-Stuart, Johnny
Dumfries, John Bute, is said to be a
descendant of King Robert the Bruce.
Bruce's daughter married a Stuart in 1314,
with their son becoming the first of the
Stuart kings, Robert II.
Related links: Ayrshire Mansions .
Ayrshire Castles . Cumnock
Town . Dumfries House