Heritage and History

Purchased by William Crichton, 1st Earl of Dumfries, in 1635, the original Estate of Leifnorris consisted of ‘tower, fortresse, mansion place, orchard yards and pertynences’.

Why was Dumfries House built?

Early records show that the mansion place, later referred to as Leifnorris House, was situated to the north-west of the present house and was in use as a residence by the Crichton family throughout the second half of the 17th Century.

Use the menu on the left to step back through different periods in the history of Dumfries House.

With a distinguished military career behind him, William Crichton Dalrymple, the 5th Earl of Dumfries inherited his title upon the death of his mother in 1742. There are no records to suggest any plans to extend or remodel the old house, but the fact that Leifnorris was not the ancestral seat of the Crichtons may have been a contributing factor in contemplating a new house. The first mention is made in a letter from 19th November 1748 when the Earl’s lawyer, Andrew Hunter from Edinburgh, writes: ‘Mr Adam who I see now in town will wait your Lordship whenever you desire’. The loss of his wife, Countess Anne, in 1755, just a year after the Adam brothers had started building, appears to have played a major role in shaping the interiors of Dumfries House. Lavishly decorated and furnished in the latest fashion, the widower set about creating a ‘honey trap’ to attract a new lady who would join him in his quest for an heir.

A long and fascinating history...
now for a long and fascinating future.

An independent trust, The Great Steward’s of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust, was established to manage the presentation and maintenance of the house, its collection and grounds. In November 2007 the estate was purchased from Lord Bute, the 7th Marquess by a consortium led by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

This process saved the house, contents and estate from being broken up, however, there is still much that needs to be done, which will require the ongoing financial support of not only the consortium, but also sponsors, the general public and volunteers. There are many exciting projects afoot that will ensure the heritage-led regeneration of Dumfries House, the restoration projects within the house and on its contents, and the economic revival of the local community. To find out more about how you can help preserve the house and everything in it, please click here.