Dumfries House

A short distance from Cumnock and set in a 2,000-acre estate is a large mansion in the grand Palladian style. This is Dumfries House, which was built between 1754 and 1760 for William, 5th Earl of Dumfries and was the work of John and Robert Adam. It was Robert Adam's first major work. The Earl had commissioned the brothers to design and build a new family home to replace the ageing Leifnorris House.

To complement the splendid Rococo interiors of Dumfries House the Earl bought many pieces of furniture from Thomas Chippendale of London and from the Edinburgh craftsmen Francis Brodie, Alexander Peden and William Mathie, virtually all of it made for specific rooms of the house and all of which survives today. The walls displayed the Earl's collection of Dutch, Italian and French Old Master paintings and new works by Thomas Hudson and others. 

In 1792 Dumfries House passed through marriage to the Crichton-Stuarts, Marquesses of Bute. The 3rd Marquess commissioned Robert Weir Schultz to add a chapel, library and tapestry room. These and later works from the 1890s to the 1930s were completed without compromising the character of the house. 

In 2007 the house, its contents and the estate were to be sold at auction and the unique collection would have been broken up and scattered after 250 years. A nationwide appeal by SAVE and other bodies to purchase the house and contents raised several million pounds, and an eleventh-hour pledge by Prince Charles ensured the success of this endeavour. A trust will be set up to run the house so that it can be seen by the public and the genius of Adam and the craftsmen enjoyed for many years to come. 

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