Dumfries House, Ayrshire, is one of the most incredible hidden treasures of Scotland. The estate is home to the Dumfries House collection of some of the rarest 18th-century furniture around! It’s well-known as a historical masterpiece, as well as the perfect hospitality and wedding venue.
Both the house and the Queen Elizabeth walled garden make for a beautiful setting. The large estate is filled with ancient trees in the Dumfries House gardens, the iconic Coach House Cafe to grab a snack, and many more stunning attractions for visitors to enjoy!
Wander the Adam Bridge, have an exciting day at the adventure playground, explore the royal restoration of the Dumfries House Estate, and go for scenic river walks with your loved ones. There’s something for everyone at Dumfries House!
In This Post
History of Dumfries House
The story Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire begins in 1635 when William Crichton bought the estate. In 1754, the Adam brothers – James, John, and Robert Adam – worked on this infamous Palladian 18th-century home. The design showcased a beautiful central block with compact pavilions and wings. Few such houses still exist, but Dumfries House combines Scottish heritage, elegance and practicality perfectly. However, it was not open to the public until 2008, when the house reopened as a visitor attraction. Imagine, all this time, Dumfries House was completely cloaked in mystery!
For a time, Dumfries House belonged to the Marquesses of Bute. When the house was eventually passed down to John Bute, the racing driver, he had some trouble keeping the estate financially afloat. He offered to sell it to the National Trust for Scotland in the late 20th century, but they were not interested. Ultimately, he decided to keep it for the time being and completed some renovations.
Dumfries House Estate, with all its contents, was about to be sold in 2007, including the Chippendale Fortnite, but some preservationists created a campaign to purchase it and protect it under the Save Britain’s Heritage organisation. Unfortunately, they did not manage to raise enough money.
Luckily, that wasn’t the end of the road for Dumfries House history; Prince Charles of Wales heard the pleas of the campaign while in Edinburgh. The Prince’s Foundation worked hard with other organisations and the government to raise enough money to purchase the Dumfries House Estate in its entirety.
Once the prince’s foundation eventually restored Dumfries House to its former glory, a supermarket chain endorsed the farm on the estate, for both education and research into sustainable farming to take place.
In 2011, the infamous walled garden began to be cleaned out and then Dumfries House accommodation was made available in the form of the Dumfries House Lodge a year later. What used to be a water-powered sawmill has been rebuilt with the addition of the Sawmill Building Skills Centre, a rural skills training centre. King Charles was also a big supporter of Dumfries House and attended events at the Dumfries House Estate over time. Interestingly, the Crown never made it their residence, as they mainly stayed in Clarence House
In 2018, what used to be the Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust was renamed The Prince’s Foundation, and the rest is history. As for who lives in Dumfries House now, the answer is no one! It’s a safe and fun place for anyone, really, to find warmth and comfort, gain an education, or have a fun day out!
Details to Remember Dumfries House
Planning to visit Dumfries House, Cumnock? Here are the most important details to remember before you jump right into a Dumfries house tour!
Dumfries House Opening Times
Dumfries House in Scotland is open from the 4th of November to the 22nd of December 2023. For 2024, you can visit between the 8th of January and the 31st of March. Tours are unfortunately only available on the weekends, beginning at 10:45 am, with the last tour at 3.30 pm.
However, if you’re staying at the Dumfries House Lodge, you can arrange to visit during the week, as they will be open daily for you. The same applies to coach groups! Keep in mind that Dumfries House Estate retains the right to close the site during certain weather conditions or for private events, so make sure you find out in advance if it will be open.
Dumfries House ticket prices can vary, depending on the kind of tour you want! There are quite a few guided tours available. If you’re looking to take the ordinary hour-long house tour, it’s £13.50 per person, £6.75 for children aged 5-15, and free for kids under 5.
The Grand Tour offers you something a little extra. This guided tour, in addition to the normal house tour benefits, allows you access to the Principal floor and extra items inside. The Dumfries House tickets price for adults are £17.50 for adults, £6.75 for children between 5 and 15 years old, and also free for children under 5.
The Art Tour grants you exclusive access to some stunning items from the Royal Collection Trust, Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, and the National Galleries of Scotland for an incredible 90 minutes of pure joy and astonishment. Adults are £20 and, children can tour for £10.
The Chippendale Tour gives you the opportunity to explore the life of Thomas Chippendale and the iconic Chippendale furniture. Tour tickets for adults are £25, and it’s £10 for children.
Finally, the Clock Tour is another 90-minute tour around the clocks in Dumfries House, with some even being opened up! Tickets are £20 for adults and £10 for children.
Art Fund members get discounts on some tours!
Fortunately, there is no Dumfries House entrance fee for general admission.
There is a portable ramp for those with disabilities, as well as a stair lift. Note that these accommodations don’t grant access to the gallery on the second floor. There are also two free wheelchairs on site to use, but powered wheelchairs cannot be used in Dumfries House, Scotland.
If you have a hearing impairment and a hearing aid with a T-Switch, you can receive an amplified hearing transmission.
Children strollers are not allowed on the tour.
How to Get To Dumfries House
Before you hit the road, you should plot out your trip first! Here is all the travel information, from where is Dumfries House located (“where Dumfries”) and different modes of transport to check out.
Ways to Get There Using a Car
The address to pop into your GPS is Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire, KA18 2NJ.
You can get to Dumfries House estate by driving on the A70; make sure to enter through the correct entrance on Ayr Road, as there are two – one for coaches and one for cars. Once you get to Dumfries House, park at the visitor centre. Follow the brown tourist signs if you get lost!
Ways to Get There Using Public Transport
There are also public transport options to get to the Dumfries House Estate if you don’t have a car/plan on renting one.
If you want to catch a bus, be prepared for a short walk, too. You’ll want to make your way to Cumnock bus station, and the bus will leave you at the entrance of Barony Road; then it’s just a quick 1.6km walk to Dumfries House!
The train can definitely take a bit longer, in the sense that once you catch a ride to Auchinleck Station, you’ll have to either take a taxi to Dumfries House (about a ten-minute drive) or prepare for a long walk!
If you’re coming from London to Auchinleck, catch the train that goes through Carlise. Luckily, the Glasgow station has direct trains to Auchinleck.
Attractions at Dumfries House
Besides the historic Dumfries House saved by The Prince’s Foundation and Chippendale furniture, there are tons of attractions in this estate in East Ayrshire!
Explore Queen Elizabeth’s Walled Garden
This walled garden is iconic; it’s about five acres big (one of the largest in Scotland!), and is filled with stunning terraces and greenhouses. There are other special parts to the garden, too, like the formal areas for events and the Education Garden.
All-Day Fun at the Adventure Playground!
It’s right next to the cafe, and it’s boatloads of fun! I don’t think it’s just for the kids either; this playground has areas for toddlers, and it’s a great way to enjoy your time off with the kids. Adults have the time of their lives here, too!
Dine in Style
There are actually two dining options at Dumfries House Estate! The Woodlands Restaurant stands with a lovely background in nature and has tones of tasty meals to dig into, all organic. The Coach House Cafe, on the other hand, is the place to be for afternoon tea at Dumfries House, as well as smaller bites like scones and soup.
Get Lost in the Maze!
Ever heard the saying that you have to get lost before you find yourself? Well, that’s what the maze at Dumfries House is all about! With beautiful plants and around 2000 6-foot-high trees, you’re in for a confusing but fun time.
Marvel the Amazing Temple Gate
The Temple Gate looks like something out of an old medieval movie, honestly. It’s definitely not in use anymore, as it took quite a beating over the years, but it’s truly a work of decorative art.
See the Restored Lady’s Well
The Lady’s Well was one of the biggest restoration projects on the estate, originally dug for William Crichton and wrecked during World War II. Now, the well and the stone above is restored, and a sight to behold!
Relax at the Health and Wellbeing Centre
Operated by The Prince’s Foundation, this centre is the perfect place to kick back and work out some tension. They offer services like acupuncture and hypnotherapy to support your physical and emotional well-being.
Wander the Bridges
There are two fantastic bridges to explore on the estate; Adam Bridge (known as Avenue Bridge) and the Chinese Bridge! Adam Bridge is truly remarkable, and the original drawing of the bridge by John Adam still exists on the estate. The Chinese Bridge is a tranquil and relaxing spot to go for a stroll!
Learn Something New at the Farm
The Valentin’s Education Farm is essentially a rural skills training centre designed to give young people the lowdown on horticulture and native livestock conservation. There are some interesting animals to see here, too, like Scots grey chickens and the Cröllwitzer turkey.
Stroll through the Gorgeous Rothesay Gardens
The Rothesay Gardens is one of the most restorative spaces on the estate, with an oak-framed building in the middle. You’ll feel completely at ease with the wonderful sounds of nature and the stream nearby calling to you.
Check out the Dovecot
The Dovecot might actually be the oldest surviving part of the estate, with a 1671 date carved into the doorway. It was most likely used as a food storage facility back in the day, and it’s quite an iconic historical building.
Rest Easy at Dumfries House Lodge
There are dozens of fun activities and attractions at the estate. In fact, the Dumfries House Lodge can even be considered an attraction, with its stunning rooms and beautiful views. The Visitor Centre staff assist you with anything you might need, and there are multiple choices, from guest rooms to self-catering. Book online on their website to secure a spot, or consider other accommodation in Dumfries to stay close to the action!