The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 29 November 2007

New Trust takes ownership of historic Dumfries House in Ayrshire

OWNERSHIP of one of the most valuable and intact historic properties in the UK, Dumfries House in Ayrshire, has passed to The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust it was announced yesterday.


The Trust has been established to preserve and maintain the house and its magnificent contents and open it to the public, which is expected to happen in summer 2008.

The news comes at the summit of a hard fought and successful campaign launched by SAVE Britain’s Heritage in March 2007 to save Dumfries House for the nation after it had been put on the market by John Bute, the 7th Marquis of Bute.

Situated in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, about 50 minutes from Glasgow and 20 from Glasgow Prestwick Airport, the house is one of the most important Georgian houses in the UK.

Dating from the time of the Scottish Enlightenment it contains an outstanding collection of untouched 18th century furniture selected specifically for the house at the time it was built, including pieces by Thomas Chippendale and his Scottish contemporaries William Matthie, Alexander Peter and Francis Brodie.

Its contents of historic furniture were also due to be sold separately at an auction held by Christie's on 12 and 13 July 2007.

Most of the interior of Dumfries House is exactly as it was when it was first built.

In May 2007 The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity, approached SAVE to offer its support and announced its pledge of £2 million - the largest in The Art Fund’s history, later increased to £2.25m.

The Art Fund was able, because of its status as a ‘Schedule 3’ body, to undertake a private treaty sale, which reduces the price to the buyers because the Inland Revenue writes off capital gains tax when the purchaser is a heritage body.

“We are thrilled that The Art Fund has been able to act as the formal legal purchaser of the house and its unique collection, enabling the sale to be organised at the eleventh hour,” said Art Fund director David Barry.

“The Art Fund has been a driving force in putting together the unique funding package behind this extraordinary campaign, and I look forward to the opening of the house and its unique contents for the public to enjoy next year.”

Funding was also attracted by the Art Fund from The Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement.

Other major contributors include the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Scottish Government, and HRH The Prince of Wales, through the Prince’s Charities Foundation, who responded generously to the challenge of saving the unique collection.

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