Our dream is the preservation of Dumfries House, its contents and the Estate for the nation and for the future, giving generations of people pleasure and wonder in the beautiful and intriguing objects and buildings waiting to be discovered here. By learning from our past, we can be sure of our future.
Our sincerest wish is to create an environment in which the sensitive restoration of the House and the Estate will build a reputation for offering both corporate and public hospitality services of the very highest order, for social and ecological responsibility regarding the build of new homes, and recognition for farming excellence that inspires the British Farming industry towards more ecological, sustainable practices.
Our hope is that we will be able to attract new visitors, older and younger, families and friends, and from the public and private sectors so that everyone can discover for themselves the wealth of history and knowledge that Dumfries House has to offer.
We must become a focal point for the local community as a place to come together, as an education centre, and as a business facility that is second to none. It is also important that through the creation of employment and traditional skills training programmes benefiting the local area, the beauty and splendour of the estate is preserved for everyone to enjoy, making Dumfries House an irresistible visitor attraction.
Securing the future
Our belief is that to safeguard the long term future of Dumfries House, we will need to build an infrastructure that will enable the House and Estate to fund themselves. This will be achieved by increasing the number of visitors to the Estate, by higher numbers of social event bookings, and from the ongoing support of both private and public sponsors.
Our vision is a simple one...to become an asset to the nation, a source of pride for the nation, a place of enjoyment for the nation.
In addition to the Main House on the Estate, there are numerous other buildings and structures of historic and architectural importance. Many of them have been part of the Estate since the beginning, some even pre-date it, and all are in need of restoration and repair. Any and all works undertaken on these structures will be carried out in a manner sensitive to the period they were built, using local materials and traditional methods as close as possible to the original.
Discussions and plans are being drawn up, not only about how these buildings shall be renovated, but also how they shall be used in the future. With our ongoing consultation process with the local council and community we believe that some of the buildings will be used for educational purposes, as meeting rooms for local institutions and not-for-profit organisations as well as corporate establishments. Some of the buildings may also be used to teach traditional crafts and skills as part of an employment scheme, and others may be used as respite accommodation for carers or ex-servicemen.
Whenever funding is secured for a project, and the requirements of the local community have been ascertained, the plans will be able to adapt accordingly, ensuring the projects can target these needs in a timely and accurate fashion. The latest progress reports will be published on the new Dumfries House website as soon as they are made available.
Listed below are buildings and structures requiring restoration that can be found whilst enjoying a walk around the Estate.
The Dumfries House Estate
The Stable Block
Pre-dating Dumfries House and of outstanding architectural importance, surviving documents from Adam refer to it as the present barn. This may suggest that the building was part of the Leifnorris Estate. The main restoration work would be to the roof, especially the northern roof pitch, and to the joinery and windows.
The Coach House
Designed by John Adam in 1760 to be seen on the approach road to the House, it has a Palladian front similar to that of the House and is Category B listed. Its setting is enhanced by the line of Wellingtonias planted behind it by the 3rd Marquess of Bute. It has also served as accommodation for Coachmen and Chauffeurs, reflecting the changes in modes of transport. Much renovation is required for this building.
Another John Adam building from 1760, and is in urgent need of restoration. Historic Scotland has already committed to part funding. Adam’s estimates and building specification still survive along with later plumber’s bills. The building was used as a Youth Hostel until the 1960s.
Of outstanding significance to the Estate, and harbouring a sycamore tree of over 350 years in age. Due to their size the walls are in need of significant repair. The garden contained within also needs a lot of work. The Walled Garden is located on a site formerly known as Wattersyde (Waterside) that had a house and kitchen garden. The 5th Earl converted into a Walled Garden for the express purpose of providing fresh fruit and vegetables for Dumfries House. The wall itself incorporates the Bothy Cottage (below).
Constructed in 1766, probably as the factor's house, it was still inhabited until the 1960s, but has since fallen into disrepair, and requires considerable work to restore it. As it forms part of a wall for the Walled Garden, the restoration work may well have to be considered in tandem with the Walled Garden work.
Built much later than the Walled Garden and Bothy Cottage, this Victorian Cottage Ornee, which traditionally housed the Head Gardener, is also in need of repair. The photograph shows the building overlooking a well-tended field of gooseberries. This area is now completely overgrown with boundaries having gotten lost.
Water Powered Sawmill
19th Century addition to the Estate, this beautiful structure also requires a large amount of restoration work on it. Such work would also have to look at clearing the waterway to enable a swifter flow to reach the wheel. East Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government have given encouraging signals regarding the restoring of the Sawmill back to a fully operational mill.
One of the structures on the Estate which pre-dates Dumfries, this 17th Century dovecot is of outstanding historical and architectural importance. Built in 1671, and repaired in 1852, it represents a significant restoration project. Although part of the old Leifnorris Estate, it became a feature of the landscape at Dumfries House.
A spectacular gate house, this Category A listed structure was doomed from the start as a day to day part of the Estate, as access from it to the main road was denied by the owner of the interceding land. As it no longer had a ‘practical’ use, it began to be referred to as a Temple and simply became a decorative feature. It has since been used as accommodation and latterly, it has fallen into disrepair. The stonework and masonry are still pretty much in place, however, facilitating any future restoration.
This John Adam designed, elliptical bridge was built to give the traveller an early sight of Dumfries House on their approach. A stand of Wellingtonias have since blocked such a view, but the bridge itself is still an outstandingly beautiful and important structure. Category A listed, it has been damaged both by accident, and more recently, vandalism. The balustrade has been removed and stored in fragments on the Estate. The original design drawing by John Adam survives, along with his estimates and bills. It has already undergone restorations in the early 19th Century and throughout the 20th Century.
Stockiehill Lodges & West Gate Lodges
Of considerable importance on the Estate, the Stockiehill Lodges were built at the same time as the West Gate Lodges. They became redundant as gate lodges when the Ayr-Cumnock road was moved. Both pairs of lodges require refurbishment and interior modernisation.
This mid 18th Century structure was partially taken down in the early 20th Century and a game larder was built on top of it. A reference from 1762 to 'cutting the Ice-house door and fixing the arch'd part of it' survives amongst a list of works to John Adam specified designs. It was later converted into a Game larder.