In June 2007, HRH The Prince of Wales, under his title of Great Steward of Scotland, headed a consortium of charities and heritage bodies to purchase this unique house, its contents and adjoining land, in order to keep this historical jewel intact and accessible to the public.
Designed by the Adam brothers and built between 1754 and 1759 for William Dalrymple, 5th Earl of Dumfries, the house has been described as an 18th century time-capsule, since the principal rooms and their contents have remained virtually unchanged for 250 years. It was the Adam brothers first important independent architectural commission and they kept the building costs to within a few pennies of the original estimate of £7979 11s 2d.
The house - which stands on the left bank of the Lugar Water - is built of a fine quality close-grained sandstone. The main entrance is reached by a very wide flight of steps and leads to a large entrance hall. The frontage is three storeys high with large wings at each end containing further rooms. James Armour who later became Robert Burns' father-in-law was reputedly employed in the work.
With its grand interiors and luxurious furnishings, including a fine collection of Thomas Chippendale furniture, set in 2,000 acres of land, there is something for everyone on a visit to this magnificent house and estate.
Avenue Bridge, a three arch bridge adorned with obelisks is contemporary with the house, but a lovely dovecote dates from 1671.
Other structures on the Estate include 2 single-arch bridges, an icehouse, a coach building, a sundial, the ruins of Terringzean Castle, lodges, and a temple.
The wings of the house were never completed to the Adams' design but were later finished in 1905 by Robert Weir Schultx for the then Marquess of Bute.
In the 19th century, Dumfries Estate covered the greater part of Old Cumnock and adjoining parishes, amounting in 1872 to a total of 43,734 acres. This was exceeded in Ayrshire only by the Marquess of Ailsa who owned 76,000 acres.
In 1872, the Dumfries Estate had a gross annual value of over £22,000 plus over £2,500 of mineral value.