Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Friday, 11 October 2013

11 Oct 2013 - Visit to Dumfries House

A group of around 17 members and guests went to view Dumfries House.  This visit was arranged by Barbara Finlay and we owe her thanks for this although unfortunately she was unable to attend.

We went by car and met up at the visitor entrance where a couple from Edinburgh who did not know an advance booking was necessary joined us.  We were met by the Chief Guide who showed us into a room where we viewed a short video by Prince Charles telling us how the Dumfries House Trust came about and the last minute rescue of the priceless furniture which was on its way to an auction house in London.

Then we met our volunteer guide who conducted us round several rooms. She was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining with some anecdotes and made the whole visit very enjoyable.  She even managed to make it easier to understand the way the House had been passed through the various families.

It was hard to believe some of the Chippendale furniture had not been refurbished as it was in such good condition.  The blue drawing room furniture has, however, been restored in beautiful blue silk and with the same pattern as the original. This was apparently necessary due to the bad habits of some of the family dogs in more recent years... One of the amazing things about the furniture here (Dumfries House contains 10% of the total worldwide authenticated Chippendale pieces) is that many were bespoke pieces such as the famous bookcase, and they never appeared in the Cabinet Maker's Directories.  The family also kept the invoices so proof of provenance is not a problem.

Some of the d├ęcor has been restored to the original although there is still lots to be done.  In this regard we were able to see one of the mirrors in the process of being restored - seeing it lying on a bench in a number of pieces made one realise what a huge task such restoration involves.

Some of our group had visited before and I am sure, like us, would agree Dumfries House gets better and better on each occasion.

Paddy Mathieson and Patricia Weston

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