Monday 2 – Thursday 5 July
Over time the fortunes of great families may fall as well as rise. Any fluctuation, however subtle, may put the material evidence of each generation’s pleasure and prosperity at risk. Beloved family heirlooms may be lost: exquisitely-carved chairs, a bureau bookcase for the lord’s attire, even the well-used dumb waiter sold, or the lesser pieces moved up to the nurseries. Very few great country houses survive with their original suite of furniture intact, let alone one with dozens of original pieces designed by Thomas Chippendale, the greatest Georgian cabinet-maker. Yet thanks to His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Dumfries House was miraculously preserved with its Georgian contents intact! Lift off the roof and within you will find bookcases whose exuberant crestings wind their way to the ceiling, card-tables so elegant they seem about to skip lightly across the floor, and chairs whose scrolled and time-worn mahogany arms wait beneath generations of distinguished portraits. Mirrors creep up the wall like climbing roses.
A veritable Aladdin’s Cave of English and Scottish 18c craftsmanship, Dumfries House warrants one of Inscape’s in-depth, four-day private country house study visits. Curator Emeritus Charlotte Rostek will inform us of the conservation techniques used at the House and the many challenges faced daily in its upkeep. Head of Communications Stephen Kay will provide an introductory tour of the key rooms of the house, Head Guide Alan Macdonald will introduce us to the Chippendale treasures, the biographer of Dumfries House Simon Green will tell its architectural story, and Head of Gardens Brian Corr will personally guide our garden visits. Each specialist will address us and escort us behind doors normally closed to the public. We will be shown the Adam brothers’ original drawings for the house, and Chippendale’s original bills for the furniture, as well as a carpet that was the first ever produced at Axminster. We stay in an exquisite annexe of the house itself, Dumfries House Lodge.