Inside Dumfries House

Dumfries House Estate

Take a virtual tour of The Dumfries House Estate.

The Dumfries House Estate
Dumfries House is one of Britain's most beautiful stately homes, set in a stunning 2,000 acre estate. Saved by the intervention of His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay (as he's known in Scotland) in 2007, Dumfries House combines the neoclassical architecture of Robert Adam with the furniture of Thomas Chippendale and leading 18th-century Scottish cabinet makers. Take an exclusive virtual tour in 360 degrees with Google Street View.

Click and drag to explore the grounds of Dumfries House on Google Street View.

The Entrance Hall
The Entrance Hall was the first part of the House that guests of the 5th Earl (for whom the house was originally built) would see. It is a bright, open space to welcome visitors, and houses some key pieces of furniture made by Alexander Peter.

Click and drag to explore The Entrance Hall on Google Street View.

The Pink Dining Room
To your right as you enter Dumfries House is the striking Pink Dining Room. A favourite of The Prince of Wales, it is the best preserved room in the house, with the least alterations made since its inception. 

The original contents have largely survived, with an unusually complete set of documentation, establishing provenance and proving authenticity.

Furnished with what were only the best names and most expensive cutting-edge tastes and designs, the room stands as a testament to the 5th Earl’s desire to dazzle and impress.

The distinctive pink wall colour though was not added until 1955 (by the widow of the 5th Marquess of Bute).

Click and drag to explore The Pink Dining Room on Google Street View.

The rococo style ornate ceiling was painted in 1955, but the design takes inspiration from the ruins of Palmyra in Syria. The design was copied from Robert Wood’s influential drawings of the ancient Roman city in ‘The Ruins of Palmyra’, published in 1753.

Being one of the first systematic publications of ancient buildings, the drawings had great influence on neoclassical architecture, and not least of all Robert Adam, who most likely suggested the designs as a fashionably contemporary incorporation.

A stand-out piece that is still lit on special occasions and during candle-lit Christmas tours, this Murano-glass chandelier holds 18 candles and showcases glassblowing skills through the wide range of flowers, such as tulips, carnations and roses.

The Earl of Dumfries commissioned Thomas Hudson to paint this portrait to fit the Adam frame.

He wears his Earl's robes, has St Andrew's Cross hanging at his chest and holds in his hand the contract to The House, signed by the Adams brothers.

These late Victorian crimson silk damask curtains balance perfectly with the Pink Dining Room.

Edged with silk tassels and with six silk cord rope-twist curtain tie backs, they hang on either side of the bay windows, allowing for the room to be lit naturally.

The 5th Earl was told by the Adams brothers that no dining room could be complete without an Italian Renaissance painting.

The Earl picked this spectacular work by Jacopo Bassano, Jacob and his Journey.

Recently restored, this piece is a highlight of the room, as is its surrounding frame designed by William Mathie, a very fine example of Scottish rococo.

Lord Dumfries' Study
Stepping into the study you find a plainer simpler room, a room designed to work from, without the finery and detail seen elsewhere. The degree of economy in room design, indicated by the plain ceiling and fireplace, reflects the privacy of the study where the man of the house would conduct his business.

The handsome mahogany Chippendale writing desk, supplied in 1759 for £22, takes centre stage.

On the opposite wall stands a Chippendale style mahogany bookcase (not made by Chippendale himself) which contains a collection of ‘Mauchline Ware’ that has been donated to the Trust.

On top of the bookcase sits a bust of Apollo, attributed as being the ‘Bacchus’ acquired in London by the 5th Earl in 1756.

Click and drag to explore Lord Dumfries' Study on Google Street View.

Incorporated into the desk was the latest in design and finishing, topped with the best leather and complete with useful gadgets, such as the extendable writing surface for standing use and the many secret compartments for private possessions and paperwork.

Between the windows hangs a portrait in pastel of the 1st Marquess of Bute as a young man, by Swiss painter Jean-Etienne Liotard.

Sitting below it is a charming rosewood quarter-chiming table clock by Roskell & Son, dating from around 1830.

The Family Parlour
This room was intended as the principal living room of the house, although it was used as a dining room for a period of time in the 19th-century. As the name suggests it would have featured at the heart of family occasions and gatherings. 

Having been painted and gilded in the 19th-century, the room was restored to its original off-white colour scheme, providing a calm backdrop to the newly restored vibrant yellow silk damask on the chairs, sofas and cushions.

Click and drag to explore The Family Parlour on Google Street View.

Highlights in this room are the Alexander Peter sofa, Chippendale elbow chairs, and a Chippendale card table.

The family is also present as, the Ann Forbes painting on the left depicts the daughter of the House, Lady Elizabeth Penelope, as a young girl.

The Daniel Gardner painting on the right portrays her two sons, shortly after the birth of her second child.

This decorative plasterwork in the Family Parlour shows hunting horns and also a piece of music that plays the Scottish ditty, 'There's Nae Luck Aboot The Hoose'.

Being a North-facing room, the Family Parlour can often struggle to receive light.

The yellow silk helps to add warmth to the room, as evidenced by this vibrant tassle wrapped around gilded handles.

The Family Bedroom
This room is undoubtedly an impressive show piece, containing the most elaborate and expensive furnishings, ideal therefore for its secondary use as the reception room for the 18th-century Scottish nobility of the House.

The four poster bed centrepiece by Thomas Chippendale exudes luxury, and was by far the most expensive piece commissioned by the 5th Earl of Dumfries.

The one of a kind rosewood bookcase, by Chippendale, which now sits in the Blue Drawing Room, was also bought specifically for this bedroom.

The Family Bedroom is a true statement of Lord Dumfries’ wealth, taste and social standing, and a sign of his desire to attract a suitable spouse, following the death of his wife in 1755.

Click and drag to explore The Family Bedroom on Google Street View.

The strong pinks and golds of the original Axminster carpet, the rococo gilt overmantle with carpet-pile panel, along with the elegant and colourfully upholstered Scottish side chairs, all provide an abundance of colour and extravagance.

The Family Bedroom also boasts its own bathroom.

The Blue Drawing Room
On entering The Blue Drawing Room room, take in the vibrant blue of the Damask Silk Chippendale Elbow Chairs, the fine art depicting the members of the house, painted by Sir Henry Raeburn and the intricate designs of one of the first ever produced Axminster Carpets. The Rosewood Bookcase sits in this room and provides a perfect balance with this one of a kind piece.

The Blue Drawing Room was a room designed to withdraw to after dinner, and to put the guest at ease whilst also showing a level of opulence.

Click and drag to explore The Blue Drawing Room on Google Street View.

Although dating to 1760, the second of Murano Glass chandeliers was not brought into the house until 1908, where it was electrified by the Bute family immediately on arrival.

Perhaps the most important piece of furniture within the House, the Rosewood Bookcase is an iconic piece of Chippendale furniture.

Made of padouk, limewood and mahogany, the design was never published, making it a truly unique piece of furniture.

One of the three Axminster carpets within the House, the one in the Blue Drawing Room is an exceptional piece.

Dating from 1759 and one of the first Axminsters to be produced, the carpet depicts national flowers as well as colours that compliment the room.

The Adams brothers are thought to have had a hand in the design of this carpet. It displays a cornicopia of blooms, including flowering cactus, agapanthus, carnations and lillies; these were exotic plants that were hardly known of in Britain at the time.

The Samuel Smith Breakfast Table, purchased on 9th September 1756, directly corresponds with plate XXXIII in the first edition of Chippendale's director, published in 1754.

Smith was apparently the first London furniture-maker that Lord Dumfries turned to before he discovered Chippendale.

Perched on top of it is a Kangxi (1662-1772) Chinese Famille Verte Circular Bowl and Cover, painted with flowering chrysanthemum, peony and other foliage.

The Pewter Corridor
The Pewter Corridor leads from The Blue Drawing Room to The Tapestry Room. The floor boards are made of untreated oak, very possibly from the estate, which had a working sawmill until the late 1970s. Inspired by Byzantine architecture, The Pewter Corridor consists of eight square compartments each with a circular dome ceiling, connected by semi-circular arches.

The ceilings in The Pewter Corridor were restored by former world champion painter Mark Niven of Edinburgh, with the assistance of apprentices, some of whom were as young as sixteen.

It was only through old photographs that the original 'Adam revival' design paintwork was known.

In 2010, the careful scraping away of paint in one section of The Pewter Corridor revealed the original polychrome decoration.

This section was then used as a template to restore the rest of the corridor to its vibrant former glory.

One of the domed sections revealed has been left unrestored and instead conserved with its original historic paintwork.

The Tapestry Room
A purpose built room designed to house the family's collection of Greaco-Roman tapestries that date to 1717, the Tapestry Room is part of the Victorian extension commissioned by the 3rd Marquess of Bute. Today it serves as one of the main function rooms within Dumfries House, hosting graduation ceremonies, conferences and, most frequently, weddings. All of the furniture is removed from the room, and chairs are placed on either side to create an aisle.

All the windows in this room are UV filtered, which protects the tapestries from any potential light damage.

The intricately decorated wood was carved from cedar and then bleached in the Bute workshops in Cardiff, before being transported to the Estate.

Click and drag to explore The Tapestry Room on Google Street View.

The Library
What is now the Library used to be a Turkish Bath and then a Billiards Room. The room is now a cosy and welcoming room, used for intimate dinners as well as conferences.

Inspired by his experiences on a trip to Constantinople in 1866, the 3rd Marquess commissioned his friend and architect Weir Shultz to transform the servants’ quarters in the West Pavilion into a luxurious Turkish bath.

Completed in the late 1800s, this was the earliest known example of its kind in Scotland, and consisted of a plunge bath, shampooing room and Turkish bath, with glazed white and majolica tiles which made up an elaborate floor mosaic, all lit by skylights.

The suite of rooms were only accessible through a connected smoking room, creating a private male enclave for relaxation and the conducting of business.

Click and drag to explore The Library on Google Street View.

After his father’s death in 1900, the 4th Marquess was more concerned with practicality, and had the Turkish Bath changed to a billiard room and library, again with the help of Shultz.

Unfortunately, no drawings or photographs of the Turkish bath have survived.

The new split level room, completed in 1905, opened up the raised Smoking Room to the new Billiard Room by replacing the wall with a column partition.

The skylight was kept and the room lined with bookcases for a collection of books acquired from Loudoun Castle.

This modern and practical arrangement is remarkably sympathetic to the original Adams design.

The School Room
The 3rd Marquess made further major changes by converting the West Pavilion into a gentleman’s quarter. This included refurbishing the low wing room that linked to a smoking room and Turkish bath in the West Pavilion, which was renamed The School Room.

The room was completely remodelled by Shultz, who added restrained panelled walls, an 18th century inspired chimneypiece as well as delicate plasterwork of a more contemporary design of the time.

Under the 4th Marquess the School room became an office, and with its pleasant southerly and westerly views became one of the 4th Marquess’ favourite rooms.

Click and drag to explore The School Room on Google Street View.

This breakfront cabinet by James McDowell holds porcelain dishes and Cumnock pottery, as well as models of animals, such as a squirrel and a parrot, and pottery nursing mugs - an indication of the room's use.

The Toby Jug Room
Named for the vast number of Toby Jugs on display, this is the first room that guests on a tour of the house would see. Dumfries House has quite a collection of Toby Jugs, which were first produced in 1760, as well as several different collections of porcelain. 

Click and drag to explore The Toby Jug Room on Google Street View.

This Minton Pottery charger, or service plate, was produced by the Art Pottery Studio in Kensington, which promoted the talents of ceramic artists, especially women.

The East Corridor Picture Gallery
This vibrant green corridor is home to a large set of 17th-century Dutch paintings acquired from the renowned collection of the 3rd Earl of Bute, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1762 under King George III. 

The paintings would have originally hung in his Bedfordshire home, Luton Hoo. The collection includes Teniers’s ‘Village Inn’ and Van de Velde’s ‘Battle of Solebay’.

This rich array of paintings, along with other works of art throughout the house, have been generously lent by the 7th Marquess of Bute.

Beautifully carved 18th-century chairs by Thomas Chippendale and Alexander Peter line the corridor, with the contrast between Chippendale’s dynamic and organic shapes, and Peter’s formal solid design being quite noticeable.

Click and drag to explore The Picture Gallery on Google Street View.

On either side of the hall are virtually identical grand staircases; one made of stone and the other of wood.

These would have been used by the whole household, as there are no secondary stairs for servants.

Both staircases are well lit by large Venetian windows, and the Gallery is naturally lit by way of skylights.

The Blue Bedroom
The Blue Bedroom is a showcase of work by Scottish furniture maker Alexander Peter. The suite of Alexander Peter furniture is covered in matching blue patterned fabric, and includes an imposing mahogany and gilt wood four poster bed whose pelmets match the curtain pelmets.

The Boule Desk, made in France and originally on eight legs, was adapted and altered by Chippendale before being purchased by the 5th Earl.

Click and drag to explore The Blue Bedroom on Google Street View.

The Brodie Bedroom
This is one of eight bedrooms on the second floor of the house, furnished with Scottish furniture. The Brodie bedroom features an Alexander Peter bed, with matching carved curtain pelmets, as well as two unique pieces by Francis Brodie.

The mirrored cabinet by the door is a piece that is believed to pre-date the house, while the mirror on the dresser is a small, rare item.

Click and drag to explore The Brodie Bedroom on Google Street View.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.