The Prince of Wales has added his magic touch. He campaigned to raise the money to buy Dumfries House & its collection: the furniture was on its way to the auction house when the deal was done! One of the reasons he did that is because the house has an extensive Chippendale collection, designed for the house, and it was about to be split up. One piece had received a private offer of over £20m (a small bookcase) and the sum paid in total was circa £45m, for house and contents, including Christie’s’ and Savills’ fees. So the “right” thing was done and the beady eye of the then owner wasn’t just on the bottom line.
So why was this being sold? Well, it’s because the Marquess of Bute, an extremely wealthy landowner, didn’t need the house. He lives at Mount Stuart and while the family had lived at Dumfries House while Mount Stuart was being rebuilt following a fire and latterly an elderly relative lived there, facing a large death duties bill the house was put up for sale (the National Trust rejected it).
Oh, and if you needed another reason to salivate, the house was designed by Adam!
I felt like at was at a Royal household property. The introductory video by Prince Charles, the neat little hut where the shop is based, the pure beauty and quality of everything that has been done.
And the best bit? They are restoring the house and the gardens, meaning the visitor gets to experience the house very much as it would have been in the 18th century.
One definitely to return to. And I’m kinda glad the NT didn’t get it because the passion a single charitable trust has for its own single project hasn’t been filtered down by bureaucracy and Prince Charles has been able to use his connections to secure funding for the restoration, creating a donor’s list with names of the sort I’ve never seen at a NT property. I suppose if their current project director doesn’t work out, they could give me a tinkle.
When visited: July 2014
Further reading: Tweedland