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Dumfries House: An Architectural Story [Hardcover]

Simon Green , Jane Thomas
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: 30.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

10 Feb 2014
On 18 July 1754, William Crichton Dalrymple, the 5th Earl of Dumfries, laid the foundation stone of Dumfries House. It was the first country house built by Robert, John and James Adam the brothers whose architectural practice was to become the most famous in Britain. Dumfries House lies within its historic landscape in rolling farmland to the west of Cumnock. Completed in 1760, the house was adapted and altered over the years most significantly and sympathetically by Robert Weir Schultz, a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. Dumfries House is not only significant architecturally, it also contains one of the most spectacular collections of eighteenth century furniture in Britain, with works by Thomas Chippendale, and pieces by three renowned Edinburgh furniture-makers, Francis Brodie, Alexander Peter and William Mathie. In June 2007, HRH The Prince of Wales headed a consortium of charities and heritage bodies to buy the house, its contents and its estate, with the express aim of preserving it in its entirety and making it more accessible to the public. In this landmark book, author Simon Green draws on previously unpublished documents from the extensive archives of the Bute family, who lived in the house from the early nineteenth century until the death of Lady Bute in 1993, along with a wealth of photographs, plans and drawings from the National Trust for Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Exploring the people and the ideas behind a unique building, 'Dumfries House' is the story of the survival of a treasured eighteenth century family residence at once the homliest of homes and a great undertaking, more bold than wise .

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Dumfries House: An Architectural Story + The English Country House + An Exuberant Catalogue of Dreams: The Americans who Revived the Country House in Britain
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland (10 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902419855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902419855
  • Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 22.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This handsomely produced history of a national treasure is a fitting tribute to a fascinating house - Marcus Binney, Country Life

About the Author

Simon Green is an architectural historian at RCAHMS with over 30 years experience researching Scotland's buildings.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag 25 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dumfries House was the subject of the most dramatic rescue of a British country house in living memory. Its contents, including the most important collection of furniture of Thomas Chippendale's early period, was in removal vans heading down the M6 on the way to Christie's saleroom in June 2007. Prince Charles had headed a consortium endeavouring to rescue the house and contents which were on the point of going onto the open market. Only by his intervention, having borrowed 20m, was it possible, apparently with minutes to spare, to halt the process. The vans were recalled and the furniture restored to its historic setting.
This astonishing drama is recounted somewhat cursorily in three sentences in the introduction to this book, but otherwise receives no mention, a curious omission which is not explained.
The book is the result of Simon Green's extensive research in the Bute family archives at Mount Stuart and the story as the house passes through successive generations is meticulously covered. The survival of so much from the 18th century is a result of the house not being the primary residence of the Bute family and the fact that successive incumbents had a sympathetic attitude to its architecture and contents (at least until this century).
The furnishing of the house is well covered by the Scottish furniture historian Sebastian Pryke. Unfortunately his thoroughness is not matched by that of the publishers. Some of the most outstanding furniture, such as Chippendale's "rosewood" (actually padouk wood) breakfront bookcase and his sublime pair of card-tables, is very poorly illustrated, as is the work of leading Edinburgh cabinet-makers. To see this furniture in all its glory you will need to look at Christie's lavish 714-page catalogue for the sale that never was.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity 6 Mar 2014
Undoubtedly this is a book written by academics, the dry almost turgid writing is proof of this as fact follows fact; the prose never to burst into life.
The illustrations are mainly harshly lit and often inadequate, many from Christie's as indicated by the lot labels that so forlornly hang from much of the furniture.
The luscious front cover illustration is not matched within - how one longs for a proper photographer to have been involved, James MacDonald, Christopher Simon Sykes or Derry Moore, say. The sense of the house as a living entity is almost entirely absent, no poetry, little beauty, only a stark litany of names and dates.
The design isn't the most fortuitous either with unpleasant paper and harsh typeface, even the flaps of the cover are too narrow. All in all, having expected so much from the delicious cover, ones appetite is insufficiently satisfied by the skimped, unimaginative fare within.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous book! 1 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book in every way,full of interest from beginning to end, and in every way a delightful mixture of a most absorbing text and lovely illustrations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars DUMFRIES HOUSE. 29 May 2014
By johnd
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I am looking for the historical and architectural details of important houses. The contents of this book are brilliant, I was amazed that so much detail, drawings and photographs were included within. I recommend this book to all those even remotely interested in architecture and interiors. The price is good too.
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