Dumfries House saved for the nation

  • 27 June 2007

The Art Fund has joined others in announcing that the campaign to save Dumfries House for the nation has been successful. This magnificent house and its contents are now secured for public enjoyment.

The house was put on the market by John Bute, the 7th Marquis of Bute; its historic furniture contents were due to be sold separately at an auction held by Christies on 12 and 13 July but this sale has now been cancelled.

The organisations involved include The Prince’s Charities Foundation, Historic Scotland, The Art Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Monument Trust, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Sir Sigmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement and SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

David Verey, Chairman of The Art Fund, said:

“This has been possibly the most extraordinary campaign in The Art Fund’s long history and I am thrilled Dumfries House and its magnificent furniture and contents are now secured for public enjoyment. The Art Fund was first to the table with its largest ever grant of £2 million in May – now increased to £2.25 million. Since then we’ve worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes to put together this unique funding package and are delighted to act as the formal body through which this irreplaceable collection can be acquired on behalf of the nation.”

The campaign was launched by SAVE Britain’s Heritage in March 2007. In May The Art Fund approached SAVE to offer its support. Shortly afterwards The Art Fund announced that it would throw its weight behind the eleventh hour campaign to secure Dumfries House for the nation by underwriting the acquisition of the house and contents up to a total of £2 million. This has since been increased to £2.25 million – the largest pledge in The Art Fund’s history.

The Art Fund also attracted major pledges from The Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Trust and Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement.

The Art Fund is delighted that others have since pledged funds, including the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Scottish Executive, but especially grateful to HRH The Prince of Wales for responding so generously to the challenge of saving this unique time capsule from the Scottish Enlightenment for future generations.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said:

“People said it couldn’t be done – that there wasn’t nearly enough time or it was too much money to raise. But this campaign shows what can be achieved when funding bodies really work together actively to achieve a common goal.”

The Art Fund will act as the purchaser of this irreplaceable house and collection and acquire it on behalf of the nation. On this occasion The Art Fund’s status as a ‘schedule 3 body’ has been a real boon – it is this that has allowed The Art Fund to step in and organise this Private Treaty Sale at the eleventh hour.

Dumfries House, situated in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, about 50 minutes from Glasgow and 20 from Prestwick Airport, is one of the most important Georgian houses in the UK. It 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.

It is hoped that the house will open to the public next year.

Related Links:

Read more about how the campaign to save Dumfries House began

Why is Dumfries House so important?

Read about The Prince of Wales' involvement in the campaign

Read more about Dumfries House in:

The Guardian

The Times

The Daily Telegraph

The Scotsman

The Herald Glasgow