You may have seen the email flyer we sent out at the beginning of October in which I quickly mentioned my visit to Dumfies House. Well, I thought I should elaborate on the visit because it was such a great experience.
We stayed at the Dumfries House lodge, we being June my wife, our friends Nick and Yvonne on holiday from South Africa and me, staying at the Lodge is an experience in itself and highly recommended. Five great bedrooms all furnished with antiques from Dumfries House and therefore to a very high standard. We stayed in room 3 which houses an 18th century Alexander Peter four poster bed and many other fine pieces.
The tours of the house must be pre-booked and there is a choice of a short or longer tour, we chose the longer one which takes just over 90 minutes. Tour visitors assemble in a reception room to watch a video of HRH The Duke of Rothesay, Prince Charles, welcoming visitors and giving some background information on how the house and contents were saved for the nation by his last minute intervention with the support of many other institutions and individuals. For those unaware of the situation at the time, the house was up for sale and the contents had been sent off to Christies auctioneers to be sold. The funds required to purchase the house and contents were only confirmed 15 days before the auction was due to take place. Had this not happened, the house would have been sold and the contents broken up between many, many different buyers
The tours are guided by well tutored individuals who are a font of knowledge and take all questions from the visitors. The rooms are not roped off [at Prince Charles’ request] but visitors are asked to walk within certain boundaries in order to preserve the original Axminster carpet made in 1759 and of course there is no touching of items!!
I was particularly interested to see the Chippendale furniture which is all in wonderful condition, carefully restored and re-upholstered in the original designed silk damask. There are many fine pieces of furniture made by Scottish cabinet makers and mirrors by Chippendale and William Mathie.
I was fortunate that in 2007 I bought a pair of the Christies catalogues containing all the items from Dumfries House – in readiness for the sale that never took place. They are great catalogues with several pages given to each of the main items up for sale and with photos of the original Chippendale receipts. So we had some prior knowledge of what we were going to see having brought the catalogues along with us to read on the journey. The Guide told us that the catalogues themselves have become collector’s items in their own right - bringing far more than their original purchase price – such is the importance of Dumfries House.
We have a small 18thC mahogany bureau in stock at the moment with the unusual construction of two short drawers over two long, bought in Scotland and not dissimilar to bureaus made by Alexander Peter for Dumfries House, lots 247 & 275 in the Christies catalogue. The bureau is excellent quality and in good condition.