Art Fund boosts campaign to save Dumfries House with £2 million pledge

  • 16 May 2007

The Art Fund has announced that it will throw its weight behind the eleventh hour campaign by SAVE Britain's Heritage to secure the outstanding Dumfries House in Ayrshire - one of the most important Georgian houses in the UK - for the nation.

The Art Fund has underwritten the acquisition of the house and contents up to a total of £2 million – the largest pledge in The Art Fund’s history. The Monument Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, pledged £4 million towards the campaign yesterday. On Monday The Garfield Weston Foundation generously pledged £1 million in support of the campaign. This brings the total on the table so far to £7 million.

These pledges represent over a quarter of at least £25 million thought to be needed to keep both house and contents together for public enjoyment. SAVE will be making an application to the National Heritage Memorial Fund – the Government’s heritage fund of last resort – and to the Scottish Executive hoping that they will add their support. If the campaign fails the house will be sold and its contents will be auctioned separately in July.

Dumfries House, situated in Cumnock, East Ayrshire is an almost unique timecapsule from the time of the Scottish Enlightenment, containing an outstanding collection of untouched 18th-century furniture selected specifically for the house at the time it was built, including pieces by Thomas Chippendale and his Scottish contemporaries William Matthie, Alexander Peter and Francis Brodie. The house has been put on the market by John Bute, the 7th Marquis of Bute; its historic furniture contents are due to be sold separately at an auction held by Christies on 12 and 13 July.

Fiona Lees, Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council commented on the campaign: “Dumfries Estate represents a national treasure in architectural, heritage and environmental terms. It has the potential to become a catalyst to assist in the regeneration of the former Coalfield Area within which it is located, as well as being a focus for the economic development of Ayrshire in general.

East Ayrshire Council firmly supports the move to save Dumfries House for the Nation, and today’s news that £7 million has been pledged is a tremendous development.”

Find out more:
Read the full press release
Read statements of support
Read more about Dumfries House and its historic contents

Related Links:
SAVE Britain’s Heritage
Garfield Weston Foundation