Dumfries House

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Dumfries House is situated in Ayrshire, 14 miles east of Ayr, 2 miles west of Cumnock town.

This is now one of the top attractions in Ayrshire since the mansion house and estate were opened to the public in 2008.

The image below is of Dumfries House visitor centre. The Coachhouse Cafe is situated to left in the image, and the path up to the house is to the left of the visitor centre.

It is free to visit the grounds and around the house. To view the interior, you have to buy a ticket from the visitor centre, or online through the website.

Dumfries House Map . Tel: 01290 425 959.

Dumfries House visitor centre image

The image below is of the west side of Dumfries House when approaching from the visitor centre. It is about a 200 yard walk uphill from the visitor centre to the house. If you are disabled, or have purchased a ticket online, there is parking at the rear of the house.

Dumfries House west side image

The image below is of the front of Dumfries House. The house was designed in the Palladian style by the Adam brothers (Robert and John) for the Fifth Earl of Dumfries. The building was completed in 1758. Large Image.

Dumfries House front image

The image below is of Dumfries House fountain at the front of the building. The fountain was constructed in 2014.

The house is now also popular for weddings and corporate events.

The furniture was made for the house on completion by craftsmen such as Thomas Chippendale, Alexander Peter and William Mathie. This is said to be one of the most outstanding eighteenth century collections in any house in the UK. The house is now run as the Great Steward's Dumfries House Trust, with Prince Charles having played a major role in buying the estate and setting up the trust.

Dumfries House fountain image

The image below is of Dumfries House Woodland Restaurant, situated about 200 yards down from the visitor centre.

The restaurant uses the finest local produce, and vegetables grown on the estate.

Dumfries House woodland restaurant image

The image below is of the estate woodlands just down from the Woodlands Restaurant, showing the maze built in 2015.

There are many huge trees in this area, with the Giant Redwoods imported by early explorers traveling around the world. It is thought the first Giant Redwoods were brought to the UK in the 1850s.

These large estates invested huge sums of money in landscaping the area around the house. They had impressive houses, so wanted the finest plants from around the world.

Dumfries House Maze image

The image below is of Dumfries House Avenue Bridge, from an area known as Sequoia Avenue, (Giant Redwood Avenue) situated just down from the Woodlands Restaurant.

The Bridge was designed by John Adam, crossing Lugar Water to the section of the estate containing the Walled Garden. It is not known when the bridge was completed.

These are some of the largest trees in the area just now, and will keep growing for many centuries yet.

Dumfries House Bridge image

The image below is from the bridge looking towards the walled garden. The area here has been developed with many new trees, walkways and a woodland shelter.

The large walled garden was used to grow vegetable in the centre and fruit around the walls. The high walls reduced wind and stored a great amount of heat, making ideal growing conditions.

Dumfries House walled garden image

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 above ground.

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 Dumfries.

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 was completed.

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 McDouall-Crichton.

Lord Mount Stuart owned the impressive Mount Stuart mansion and estate on the Isle of Bute, as seen right.

Mount Stuart house image

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 Docks.

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 Kensington.

There was a number of coal and iron mines around Dumfries House, it is unclear if the Earls of Dumfries were involved in these mines.

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 separately.

Word of the furniture to be auctioned at Christies, created vast interest from around the world, but especially in London.

This was the sale of the century, with the media and wealthy seeking more information.

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 Mansions.

The image right, in higher resolution, was the one used by the media covering the story of the Dumfries House auction.

Dumfrise House by Cumnock image

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 2008.

Ayrshire has a number of historic castles and mansions, many that can be visited.

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 of Independence.

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 . Ayr Town .

Dumfries House Website

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