Working and Learning at Dumfries House

How Dumfries House became a centre for education, training and employment.

Geocaching at Dumfries HouseDumfries House Estate


Based across six bespoke training centres situated on the Dumfries House Estate, Dumfries House Education offers a unique selection of education and training programmes that have been designed to support learners in Primary and Secondary education with experiential, hands-on activities linked to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Workshop at Dumfries HouseThe Prince's Foundation


Students on The Prince's Foundation Building Crafts programme have the opportunity to hone their practical skills in traditional building techniques at Dumfries House. In partnership with The Prince’s Trust, Dumfries House Education also delivers three separate 'Get into' programmes four times each year. These are designed to get young people aged 16 to 24 who are not in employment, education or training into a positive destination at the end of their five week course, through opportunities in employment or college.

Lauren Dalziel, Johnny Cowley and Carolyn GirvanDumfries House Estate


When The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay intervened to save Dumfries House for the nation, his vision was to create a sustainable business to provide employment and education opportunities in an economically-deprived part of Scotland. ​Today, The Prince's Foundation employs more than 200 members of staff at Dumfries House, and is now the second largest employer in East Ayrshire. Many of the employees are hired after taking part in training programmes run by The Prince's Foundation such as the Get Into Hospitality course, which is run in collaboration with The Prince's Trust, and the Building Craft Programme.

What is Dumfries House? (27 March 2018) by Clarence HouseDumfries House Estate

Janet Casey, curatorDumfries House Estate

Janet's story

As curator at Dumfries House, Janet Casey is responsible for the maintenance and preservation of the collection of furniture and artwork. Janet, who graduated with a degree in fine art from Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2012, said: “I’ve always had an interest in Scottish Art and the Country House Collections so was delighted when I was offered the curator position at Dumfries House. It’s a spectacular place to work as we get so many visitors and there is always something new going on. My favourite part of the job is working with the collection itself and spending time maintaining it in the morning when the house is quiet and still. It’s my job to care for the collection so that it will last for another 250 years.”

Satinder Kaur, collections assistantDumfries House Estate

Satinder's story

Satinder Kaur is a history graduate from Irvine who helps oversee Dumfries Houses’s world-famous collection of 18th Century furniture and artwork. Satinder, a former pupil of Marr College in Troon, assists curator Janet Casey with the maintenance and preservation of the world-famous collection at Dumfries House. 26 year old Satinder said: “I took a tour of Dumfries House when I was at university and was fascinated by the fact that the collection is still in the building it was originally commissioned for. As my background is in Scottish history, I appreciate the significance of the house and knew I had to apply for the job as soon as it became available. I’m really enjoying my new role and feel very lucky to work there as every day is different and I am constantly learning.”

Children learning in the Kauffman Education Garden by Simon BrownDumfries House Estate

The Pierburg Building And Kauffman Education Gardens

The Dumfries House Pierburg Building and Kauffman Education Gardens welcome thousands of school children from primary and early secondary, offering them the opportunity to explore food growing, farming and horticulture. The programmes are intended to provide an insight into planting, tending, harvesting and the preparing vegetables from the garden as a food source. Related activities build upon soil analysis, biodiversity, weather and  gardening during the great wars. 

Arianne Knowles, tutor in food, farming and horticultureDumfries House Estate

Ariane's story

Arianne Knowles works as a food, farming and horticulture tutor at Dumfries House. Before joining Dumfries House, Arianne worked for the Scottish SPCA and as a farm inspector. Through her role at Dumfries House, Arianne educates visiting school pupils on the provenance of food and the importance of sustainability at the estate's Pierburg Building and Kauffman Education Gardens, as well as at Valentin's Education Farm.

Chris Jones, education gardener, teaching at Kauffman Education Garden (2016) by Simon BrownDumfries House Estate

Education Gardener Chris Jones teaches school children at The Pierburg Building and Kauffman Education Gardens.

Corrie Crawford, gardener, works in The Glasshouse (2018) by Iain BrownDumfries House Estate

Corrie's story

Corrie Crawford is one of the latest recruits to the 260-strong workforce on the East Ayrshire estate. She will be tasked with maintaining The Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden and Arboretum, as well as the Kauffman Education Gardens.

Julie Shaw, gardenerDumfries House Estate

Julie's story

Julie Shaw, who grew up in Ochiltree, a village that borders Dumfries House, is another of the newest recruits. Julie, 48, has worked in horticulture jobs all over the UK and boasts a degree in the subject from The University of Glasgow. “I was over the moon to be offered the chance to work at Dumfries House,” she said. “I’ve always been passionate about horticulture, being outside, being with plants. When I heard about the job here, I had just finished my studies in Glasgow. I graduated, was interviewed and offered the job all in the space of five days.”

“My initial jobs have been in the walled garden, doing day-to-day maintenance, weeding and dead-heading, meeting with visitors and answering their questions,” explained Julie.

“The visitors are so complimentary and that boosts your confidence and makes you feel appreciated for what you do."

"I'm going to be going around the other parts of the estate, such as the arboretum and education garden. I could not see myself ever working in an office; I have always worked in glasshouses and outside. It's not a job to me – it's my life.”

Valentin's Education Farm, Dumfries House estate, Cumnock, Ayrshire, ScotlandDumfries House Estate

Valentin's Education Farm

Valentin’s Education Farm was designed to complement horticulture and food lessons already in place on the Estate. It aims to give children a genuine farm-to-fork experience, while also focussing on native livestock conservation. The Rare Breeds Trust worked closely with Dumfries House, introducing animals that would thrive on the Estate. Breeds include Landrace pigs, Scots grey chickens and the Cröllwitzer turkey, a personal favourite of His Royal Highness.

Charlotte Darwent, shepherdess, with Border Collie Jill (2018) by Iain BrownDumfries House Estate

Charlotte's story

Charlotte Darwent works as a shepherdess on Home Farm, Dumfries House's working farm. The working farm sits adjacent to Valentin's Education Farm which hosts hundreds of school pupils from Ayrshire and beyond each month, allowing them to observe and engage with animals whilst learning about the importance of having a balanced diet. Home Farm, where Charlotte works, is set to be certified Organic in January 2019.

The Duke of Rothesay meets schoolchildren at Dumfries House (2017) by Clarence HouseDumfries House Estate

The motivations behind the learning initiatives at Dumfries House are countryside education and connecting younger generations to the provenance of food.

The Morphy Richards Engineering Education Centre, Dumfries House estate, Cumnock, AyrshireDumfries House Estate

The Morphy Richards Engineering Education Centre

The centre provides experiential indoor and outdoor learning for primary and early secondary school students, aimed to help inspire and engage young people in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The ‘Harmony’ outdoor play park surrounding the engineering workshop presents a unique learning experience, which helps re-connect children and visitors with the natural world and our built heritage. 

The Harmony outdoor play park at Dumfries HouseDumfries House Estate

A theme which centres around the natural elements – Earth, Water, Air and Fire – is incorporated into a landscape design, which uses high quality engineering and scientific enquiry play equipment.

Visitors can explore the elements using sand, gravel and water in this multi-sensory facility set into the woodland surroundings.

The park is free and open to school/youth groups and also public visitors to the Dumfries House Estate.

During school term time it may be closed at certain times to allow exclusive use by pre-booked schools parties as part of the education programme.

The Tamar Manoukian Outdoor Centre, Dumfries House estate, Cumnock, Ayrshire, ScotlandDumfries House Estate

The Tamar Manoukian Outdoor Residential Centre

The outdoor centre supports a variety of residential opportunities for many of The Prince's Charities, as well as schools, youth groups and other organisations. The activities and facilities at the outdoor centre are designed to help students develop leadership skills, build confidence and encourage self-reflection and personal development. 

Tutors on the climbing wall at Dumfries HouseDumfries House Estate

When not in use by the Prince’s Charities or youth groups, the outdoor centre becomes the hub for schools locally and nationally attending Dumfries House Estate.

The outdoor centre also offers the opportunity to link with schools and youth groups from abroad offering a wider impact on young people who may benefit from the programmes under development.

It has access to a parade square and a half acre activity area, incorporating a ten stage obstacle course and leadership zones. There are also indoor facilities, including an archery range and indoor sports hall, which features a climbing and traversing wall.

Making wooden pegsThe Prince's Foundation

Kuanyshev Traditional & Craft Skills Centre

Designed to deliver the Get into Sustainable Building course, and supported by Dumfries House Education and The Prince’s Trust, this centre comprises a carpenters workshop, covered stonemasonry shed, and the original water-powered sawmill building, which houses toilets and a multi-purpose classroom space. Get into Sustainable Building offers young people experiences in traditional and modern skills related to the construction Industry through developing skills in woodcraft, stonemasonry, painting, plastering, plumbing, electrical and brickwork, mixed with a week's work placement.

Ollie Clegg, stonemasonDumfries House Estate

Ollie's story

Stonemason Ollie Clegg was hired to help reinstate a historic well on the estate after he impressed staff with his contribution to The Prince’s Foundation’s ten-week ‘live build’ education project last year.Lady’s Well is a historic well which was dug on the estate before the country home was built and destroyed during a World War II airstrike in 1944.Ollie is currently working to reinstate the well and its overhead stone structure to its original design so that it can be admired by the 120,000 visitors that visit the Ayrshire estate annually.

Andrew Milton, apprentice joiner (2017) by Iain BrownDumfries House Estate

Andrew's story

Estate apprentice joiner Andrew Milton works in the workshop at Dumfries House. Andrew, who has been working at Dumfries House for more than three years, works on repairs and new-build projects.

The Belling Hospitality Training Centre and Woodlands restaurant, Dumfries House estate, Cumnock, Ayrshire, ScotlandDumfries House Estate

The Belling Hospitality Centre

The Belling Hospitality Centre provides three four-station teaching pods, each suitable for one or two students working individually or in pairs. This is complemented with the Chef’s Theatre station – a fully commercial teaching and demonstration area. All 12 cooking pods are equipped with the latest technology and two stations are designed to accommodate those with additional support needs. The attached training restaurant is fully adaptable and has an in-built bar and barista training area. 

Woodlands, The Dumfries House Estate restaurant by Simon BrownDumfries House Estate

The Get into Hospitality course is designed to cater for twelve young people aged 16 to 24 who are not in employment, education or training.

Provided in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, the course offers experiences and outcomes to open up future employment opportunities.

The Belling Hospitality Centre also supports school education through activities based around the Primary School residential activities allowing pupils to experience introductory cookery skills.

Chefs Michael Shedden and Tom Scoble (2017) by Iain BrownDumfries House Estate

Michael's story

Tom Scoble, head chef at Woodlands restaurant, mentors fellow chef Michael Shedden. The restaurant is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday afternoons for traditional roast lunch. 

Lauren Dalziel, events teamDumfries House Estate

Lauren's story

Lauren Dalziel, 22,
started working at Dumfries House at 17 after having enrolled on the first Prince's Trust Get Into Hospitality course at Dumfries House. Lauren, from Kilmarnock, left school with no qualifications and was then
in and out of small cleaning jobs before becoming unemployed. She said: "I didn’t really
have an idea of what I wanted to do when I left school. I always thought I would work in an office or a shop and certainly hadn't considered hospitality. I found out about Get Into Hospitality at the JobCentre and I went through two interviews to get onto
the course, which ran for five weeks: two weeks front of house, two weeks back of house, and a week's work placement, which, for me, was at Ayr Racecourse."

"Immediately after I'd finished, Dumfries House needed someone to work front of house and asked me to join the team. I started as a receptionist in 2012, then, a few months later, moved to work in events. I help run events such as weddings, private conferences and Royal dinners, and I also work on the organisational side, meeting clients beforehand."

"If not for the Prince’s Trust's Get Into Hospitality course, I would possibly still be unemployed or doing a part-time job rather than work that I really enjoy. It's great to see the Dumfries House Estate grow and make such a difference to the local community."

Lauren Dalziel, Johnny Cowley and Carolyn GirvanDumfries House Estate

Johnny's story

Johnny Cowley, 23, from
Mossblown, serves as a butler at Dumfries House. His journey to this prestigious position represents a perfect example of how training and apprenticeships on offer at the estate have helped local people into employment.
“Before I got the opportunity
to go to Dumfries House on the Prince’s Trust Get Into Hospitality course, I was unemployed and registered homeless," explains Johnny. 

"From being depressed and homeless, I am now living in a beautiful apartment with my partner and our daughter at Knockroon in Cumnock and have a great job as one of the house butlers. Our team looks after VIP guests during Royal visits, weddings and other events. With other members of the team, I have had the opportunity to work at events at other palaces and royal households," Johnny said.

"It’s quite scary how my life has changed. If it wasn’t for Dumfries House and the Prince’s Trust course, I don’t know where I’d be. I used to be really quiet and nervous when I started here, but now I’m far more outgoing and can approach people because I feel better in myself.”

Louis MacCallum, Director of CommercialDumfries House Estate

Louis' story

Director of Commercial at The Prince's Foundation, Louis MacCallum leads hospitality at Dumfries House and on charity projects further afield. From Bute, Louis carved out a successful career at establishments throughout Glasgow and as a hotelier in Ayrshire. He is leading the training of trainees at the refurbished iconic Glasgow tearoom Mackintosh At The Willow. 

Edward Enninful and Caroline Rush visit Dumfries House (2018) by Iain BrownDumfries House Estate

The LVMH Textile Training Centre

Housed in a former sawmill, The LVMH Textile Training Centre is the newest of the employability programmes run by The Prince’s Foundation. It offers full-time foundation level courses in sewing, cutting and edging fabrics, as well as longer intensive courses focused on high-fashion fabric skills, courtesy of French luxury giant LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE). The LVMH Textile Training Centre aims to attract the younger generation, teaching them traditional production skills and bringing renewed industry and creativity to the area.

Jacqueline Farrell in the LVMH Textile Training Centre (2018) by Iain BrownDumfries House Estate

Jacqueline's story

Jacqueline Farrell, education director for The Prince's Foundation at Dumfries House, in the LVMH Textile Training Centre. The centre is used to host intensive courses in traditional textiles skills to help address a skills gap in the industry.

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting Dumfries HouseRoyal Drawing School

Students from The Royal Drawing School in London also benefit from Dumfries House Estate's state of the art training facilities.

The Royal Drawing School Dimplex Artist Studios at Dumfries House offer four high quality studios as a base for exploring the peace and tranquillity of the house and estate.

The Royal Drawing School Artist in Residency programme offers an unparalleled opportunity to up-coming and established artists locally, nationally and internationally.

The Duke of Rothesay chats to schoolchildren taking part in learning activities at Dumfries House (2017) by Clarence HouseDumfries House Estate

Click here to find out more about the Dumfries House Estate's education programme.

To find out more about the youth employability programmes, and to get involved with The Prince's Trust at Dumfries House, click here.

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