Dumfries House

Ayrshire, KA18 2NJ

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Situated in the heart of an East Ayrshire country estate, Dumfries House is a unique time capsule of the Scottish Enlightenment.

William Dalrymple, the 5th Earl of Dumfries, commissioned the Adam family to design the house in the 1750s, filling it with luxurious furnishings and beautiful works of art in the hope of attracting a suitable wife. It was a private home for more than 250 years, but as the owners rarely lived there its contents have remained almost undisturbed from the day they were acquired. Thanks to a dramatic rescue bid in which the Prince of Wales and the Art Fund played a crucial role, Dumfries House was saved for the nation in 2008.

Unlike many country houses, Dumfries House feels intimate rather than intimidating. Visitors can enjoy the dining and drawing rooms and bedrooms, with with their exuberant plasterwork, tapestries and carefully preserved period interiors. An ongoing programme of conservation is restoring the rooms their original appearance.

The crowning glory is a collection of furniture specially made for the house by Thomas Chippendale and three outstanding Scottish furniture makers – Francis Brodie, William Mathie and Alexander Peter. This too is being spruced up – Thomas Chippendale's four-poster bed, his rosewood bookcase, sofas and elbow chairs have been returned to their original splendour.

Art we’ve helped buy at Dumfries House

In 2007 the Art Fund acted as the formal legal purchaser of the entire house and its contents before passing it on to the newly formed independent charity, the Great Steward of Scotland's Dumfries House.

In addition, the Art Fund gave its largest grant to date to help with the purchase of the contents of the house, enabling one of the finest collections of furniture in the UK to stay intact.

Venue information

Opening times

1 Apr–31 Oct

Guided tours Sun–Fri, 10.45am-3.30pm, Sat 10.45am and 12pm

1 Nov–20 Dec, 9 Jan–31 Mar

Sat & Sun 12.15pm (standard tour) and 1.45pm (grand tour)

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)