Where is Dumfries House? King Charles III project explained - is it close to Balmoral and open to the public

ITV show ‘A Royal Grand Design’ will show the King’s bid to restore the Scottish stately home

A documentary about King Charles III’s bid to renovate a Scottish stately home is set to be aired on ITV tonight (30 November).

The St Andrews Day programme, which is being narrated by actor Richard E. Grant, will show the King’s endeavours to save Dumfries House. He bought the crumbling property in 2007.

Charles has made several TV appearances since becoming the UK’s head of state in September when Queen Elizabeth II died. As well as being shown reflecting on his mother’s life on the BBC, he has also appeared on the broadcaster’s The Repair Shop programme.

It all comes as the country gets closer to the UK monarch’s coronation in May 2023. The bank holiday ceremony is set to be one of the biggest events of next year, and is expected to show the King’s vision for a modern-day monarchy.

So, where exactly is Dumfries House - and can you visit? Here’s what you need to know.

Dumfries House in Ayshire

What is Dumfries House?

Dumfries House is a 2,000 acre stately home that was constructed in 1759 by William Crichton-Dalrymple (1699 - 1768), the 5th Earl of Dumfries.

Originally called Leifnorris House, it was renamed upon completion to Dumfries House to reflect Crichton-Dalrymple’s title. In all it took five years to build.

The Earl not only opted for a grand exterior, but also spared no expense on the stately home’s interiors. Inspired by the rococo style - an architectural style that’s famous for being ornate and highly theatrical - he adorned it with Chippendale furniture.

It has led to the house having what has been described as “one of the most treasured interiors of the Scottish Enlightenment”.

The Earl died without a surviving heir, so the house was passed on to his nephew Patrick Macdouall (1726-1803), who became Lord Dumfries and the 6th Earl. His grandson, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart (1847-1900), the 3rd Marquess of Bute, added extensions to the East and West wings of the mansion.

Dumfries House remained as the family’s primary residence until 1993, when Lady Eileen, Dowager Marchioness of Bute, died. It was then maintained by former F1 driver John Crichton-Stuart (1958-2021), the 7th Marquess of Bute - although he lived between London and Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute.

King Charles bought Dumfries House in 2007 (image: Getty Images)

He put it up for sale in 2007. The stately home was bought by the then-Prince Charles. Who led a consortium that purchased it for £45 million.

After initially being run by bespoke trust The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust, Charles III moved its stewardship to his Prince’s Foundation charity in 2018.

Under the King’s direction, the house’s grounds and gardens have been renovated, historic outbuildings have been restored and the estate has become a hub for training in traditional skills and crafts, including horticulture and cookery. His intention is for the site to boost the local economy, which was badly hit by the closure of the coal mining industry.

In the ITV documentary to be broadcast on 30 November, the King expressed his fear that Dumfries House would’ve become a golf club had he not stepped in to save it.

Dumfries House is in Ayrshire, Scotland (image: Getty Images)

Where is Dumfries House?

Dumfries House is 27 miles south of Glasgow and 10 miles East of the county town of Ayr. It is situated close to the A70, but can also be reached by bus and train.

In terms of its distance to Balmoral Castle - the Royal Family’s Aberdeenshire residence - it is roughly 150 miles away, or a 3.5-hour drive. Balmoral is much further north than Dumfries House, which is close to Scotland’s border with England.

Can I visit Dumfries House?

The grounds of Dumfries House are open to the public all-year round between dawn and dusk. The site boasts a visitor centre, cafe and restaurant.

To see the house and its gardens, you have to buy a ticket for a guided tour of one or both of them. These tours run throughout the year but only operate on Saturdays and Sundays during the winter months.

Dumfries House has famously ornate interiors in the rococo style (image: Getty Images)

Whether or not the gardens are open depends on the weather. To find out more information on visiting the stately home, you can visit its website.

When is A Royal Grand Design on TV?

You can see ITV’s documentary about the King’s bid to save Dumfries House on ITV1.

It will air at 9pm on St Andrews Day (30 November) and will then be available to watch on the ITV Hub.