'Its history stretches back almost three centuries to when the Fifth Earl of Dumfries, William Crichton-Dalrymple, commissioned a stately home to be built.' He wanted to create a kind of honey trap to attract a new wife. 'Its design came from one of Britain's most famous architectural families and its original collection of 18th-century Chippendale furniture remains unchanged to this day.' This bookcase, had it gone to auction, it's said to have fetched up to £20 million. 'Its sale, 248 years after completion, involved negotiations between the present Earl of Dumfries and the world's best-known heir to a royal throne.' I then eventually discovered that there was a terrible crisis being reached. 'The dramatic last-minute rescue of house and contents was secured even after the priceless furnishings were in trucks heading for a London auction house.
' It literally was stopped on the motorway in Cumbria at one o'clock in the morning. 'Its walled garden, once one of the largest in Europe, is even now being restored to its former glory under the watchful eye of His Royal Highness, Prince Charles.' Is that for for me? Thank you very much. Are these ones you planted? – Which variety are these? Do you know? – No. Ahh. 'We've also been granted the opportunity to have a look at the private quarters of the Prince… and a couple of very special people drop in to have a look around the house. With the full force of the Prince's charities behind it, Dumfries House now also provides a glimmer of hope for the young people in a deprived community.
' He's completely changed my life. I have to pinch myself when I'm driving in to work every morning. 'The 100-room house, located in spacious grounds in Scotland's central belt, 38 miles to the south of Glasgow and only two miles from the Ayrshire town of Cumnock, was intact, but in need of vital restoration to save it from falling into what might have been terminal disrepair. Likewise, the estate had had no discernible work done on it for over a century. Numerous buildings and outhouses lay in ruins, and the only thing left standing in one of the country's largest walled gardens was a 400-year-old oak tree. Prince Charles has seen many country homes fall into decline and was adamant that Dumfries House and its contents were special, and should be preserved for the nation.
' The reason it was so special is because it's so unusual to have a house… which has all its original furniture in it, of the 18th century. In so many houses, all these things are split up and everything else, so there are very, very few such houses left. So I knew it was an important one. I'd never actually seen it but I'd seen the old photograph, literally. But I knew it was important enough because somebody would have bought it and said they had great ideas for golf courses and things, and they'd never have worked. So it would have joined the list of yet more derelict country houses. 'Fortunately it didn't, and its restoration at an estimated cost of £3 million took just under one year to complete. In sharp contrast to the splendors of the house, two miles away sat one of the most deprived areas in the UK.' One of the main reasons why I also felt it was worth taking this appalling risk and taking out such a big loan in order to fill the gap between all the other funding possibilities was that I wanted to try and see if at the same time as saving the house, I could try and make a difference to the local area because this area has been so battered and deprived, particularly since the loss of the mining industry and everything.
So it had many of the worst indices in Scotland of unemployment, ill health and everything else. And so… I'm one of those people who rather likes taking on the most difficult challenges. 'So when the word spread that Dumfries House had been saved by Prince Charles, a surge of optimism swept through the community.' I'm absolutely convinced that through heritage-led regeneration, you can achieve an awful lot. And how do you raise people's aspirations, how do you build self-esteem, how do you develop the necessary skills to substitute for the previous traditional industries? These are all the things which I think are of huge importance. I felt that we could do an awful lot to develop, you know, the educational opportunities, training, skills, all so that we could show that this place could produce some of the best skilled young people in the country. So…this is what we're trying to do. 'Ambitious plans to turn Dumfries House into a major tourist landmark gave the area a huge lift.
With fresh tourism-related jobs already in place, the prospect for the young in the community had begun to look up.' – Do you want chocolate on this cappuccino? – Yes, please. 'Thomas Breckney was one of those whose life was turned around.' My family were traditionally miners. So when the mines closed down in this area, unemployment became a way of life for people. So for him to bring in a project like this, which has not only created jobs, it creates training opportunities for people to take skills out into the community and get jobs elsewhere. It's not only been a boon for the area and a real boost, it's been a dramatic improvement for the area. So what he's done – I can say from a perspective of having seen the area at its worst it has been quite fantastic. 'When the Adam brothers of Edinburgh were hired to design and build a new family home by William Crichton-Dalrymple, they were already an architectural force of note. The brothers were said to have delivered the construction of Dumfries House to a cost within pennies of the original contracted price – 7,979 pounds, 11 shillings and two pence.
German-born Charlotte Rostek is the curator of Dumfries House.' What I'd like to show you first is really this important painting here. This is the very man who commissioned the young Adam brothers to build Dumfries House, the Fifth Earl of Dumfries, William Crichton-Dalrymple. In this picture, he is 60 years old. I dare bet that Thomas Hudson probably flattered him slightly and made him look more handsome, or slightly more youthful, than he might have been at this point. The document in his hand is the very contract for this house signed by all three Adam brothers, John, Robert and James. And what a wonderful ensemble in this room, obviously being very, very proud of his new venture. 'When the present Marquess of Bute finally despaired at keeping the house and its furnishings intact, he took the radical step of splitting them up and listed the house and grounds with an estate agent and scheduled a hotly anticipated London auction for the furnishings. The Dumfries House Chippendale furniture constitute nearly ten per cent of all surviving Chippendales in the world, and they were about to become the property of dozens of opportunist collectors around the globe.
' If we hadn't stepped in and saved it, then, you know, all this wonderful furniture, not only Chippendale but two of the great Scottish furniture makers as well, would have literally gone everywhere and we would have been left with, I think, a completely empty shell of a house. I thought, "What are we going to do?" Anyway, by the time the negotiations and all the horrors of putting the money together was finally concluded, there were three huge pantechnicons already with the furniture, all with labels on them, all going down to London. So they were literally stopped on the motorway at one o'clock in the morning – literally – and turned round to come back. So, I don't think it went down too well with all these people around the world. I get told by lots of people, "Oh, I knew so and so," and, "I wanted to buy this that and the other," you know. And all these you see, most of these chairs and furniture – would have gone, I think, for two, three, four times more than the estimate, probably.
And each chair might have gone for, you know, half a million to a million. So now, at least, people can come and see… what, to all intents and purposes, is an 18th-century house still almost as it was. And it's been a bit of a labor of love to try and restore everything. 'As well as overseeing the restoration of the house's entire 18th-century interior decor, Charlotte was tasked with supervising the refurbishment of an astonishing collection of original furnishings.' When we came to take on the house, this room, for example, looked rather lifeless. The house had last been occupied by the Dowager Duchess, the Marchioness of Bute. She used three rooms in this house. This was one of her favorite rooms. And she was always in the company of her wonderful Labrador dogs who would grace these wonderful sofas, Chippendale sofas.
And she was also a passionate smoker. She is said to have smoked about 80 cigarettes per day. And 80 cigarettes per day, of course, leave a mark. There were layers of nicotine stains. There were cigarette burn marks on this very precious Axminster carpet. The Labrador dogs, too, had left their marks on the sofas and altogether this interior oozed faded charm. 'Thomas Chippendale was Yorkshire born but became famous after he moved to London, where, in 1754, he published his Gentleman And Cabinet Maker's Director, a deeply influential compendium of fashionable English furniture design. Its publication was in the same year that the Fifth Earl of Dumfries commissioned Dumfries House. The book was brought to the Earl's attention as he considered the decoration of his grand house to be and he ordered directly from the Chippendale workshop a huge collection of original furnishings – a collection that, unique in the world, has remained completely intact for almost 250 years.' I have only ever sat on it once. It's still quite a thrill, I have to say. In fact, I hardly dare sit down.
But, yes, it is. And, believe it or not, there wouldn't have been any space for me on this sofa in the 1970s or '80s. These two sofas were in possession of those Labrador dogs. 'When an 18th-century man of considerable wealth and taste ordered more than 50 pieces of Chippendale furnishings, he doubtless spent some time considering how best to cover the floors. And so the Earl turned to a new company and purchased two of the first carpets to roll out of the Axminster factory. These priceless relics remain on the blue drawing room and the pink dining floors to this day.' All of these species here in the centre represent flowers that have just been discovered. We've got a magnolia over here. We've got a tiger lily here.
But we also have a flowering cactus. And you are talking mid-18th century Cumnock, in the middle of nowhere, if you like. And this was what these ladies on these sofas would be looking at. 'Located within a stone's throw of the Ayrshire town of Cumnock, Dumfries House has been part of the local village fabric ever since its inception in 1759. Thanks to the Prince's initiative, the estate now features an outward-bound adventure complex, an artists' retreat, a Georgian walled garden and training school, a traditional crafts centre and a training kitchen for young chefs.' The Prince has never been purely about heritage regeneration. It's also about employability and education. And around us we have a variety of different buildings, created over the last year and a bit, and they are basically aimed at education in some form or another. 'Today, some of the young people will be showing off their skills when His Royal Highness opens the cook school.
' Cut it down here. 'Many of the donors have been invited along to see how their money has been spent. They also get the chance to meet those who have benefited from their generosity, like events assistant Laura Dipiazza.' I was unemployed and through my local JobCentre they got in touch with me about the Prince's Trust course and then, when I came, I couldn't believe it. I had actually never heard of Dumfries House and I couldn't believe how close it was to me. I was amazed. He's completely changed my life and I have to pinch myself when I'm driving into work every morning. 'The nervousness among the students and staff rises as the Prince's arrival is imminent.' When we are expecting the Prince, the atmosphere is usually electric..
.past frantic. Don't want any last-minute glitches! We're looking at the watch, and usually there are advance phone calls of a slight delay or an early arrival, so you never quite know. Organized to the nth degree. It's quite pressurized too, certainly exciting. There's always the air of something very big about to be happening, which is wonderful to be part of. 'As one of the world's most prominent royals, Prince Charles is constantly under the eye of the world's press.' Ladies and gentlemen, please. (Low conversation) It's extraordinary and it's beautiful. The builders have done a brilliant job – and put the grass in! 'The Prince is led through to the state-of-the-art kitchens where he takes time to chat to some of the young people involved.
For many of them, this is their first experience of vocational training. It represents a genuine opportunity for a fresh start. – A very steady hand. – Put the blueberry on it. – Have you tried it? – No, I haven't. – Not allowed to try it? – We've got treats later. – Oh, you are. Ladies and gentlemen, can I just say what an enormous pleasure it is to see so many of you here today, and I could not be more thrilled that this whole project has now come to fruition with an incredibly smart training kitchen through there, with probably all the latest bits of equipment you could ever have imagined, which gives young unemployed people real life skills working in a professional kitchen and front of house restaurant and bar. I shall now unveil this plaque, which – to my amazement – is probably the place it's going to remain, in order to open the Belling Hospitality Centre.
'The opening goes off without a hitch and the hi-tech training kitchen is officially open. As Dumfries House guide, Alex MacDonald tells us, the latest gadgets were a little different in the 18th century.' These days, people like to have the latest gadget – maybe the latest mobile phone or the latest tablet computer. But in 1758, the time of the enlightenment in Scotland, this is the gadget that you wanted to have. This is what's known as a grand horary. It's a model of the solar system. It would show that you had a scientific mind and certainly that you were up with the trends. And, would you believe, it's portable because this is the original carry-case. The Fifth Earl of Dumfries, whose house this was, he had a townhouse in Edinburgh. He could take it off to Edinburgh to show off to his friends there, maybe for the weekend, when he headed east. The Fifth Earl of Dumfries first had the vision for this room, a very distinct vision of what he wanted in this room.
He also was in pursuit of a rather romantic notion. He wanted to create a kind of honey trap to attract a new wife. He needed a new lady to have an heir. And how do you lure a wife into your arms? Well, with style and fashion and beauty. We are in the pink dining room. This is one of His Royal Highness's most favorite rooms. The dining room was the most important room. This was where business was conducted. This is where the Fifth Earl wanted you to see just how rich he was, wonderful taste he was. He wanted to remind you of his status. 'And within two years, his plan worked. He snared himself a bride. But all was not plain sailing.' She was quite a lot younger than he. He… She was about 30 years younger but, lo and behold, it didn't all end very happily. Of course, the desire was to have a child.
The second marriage did not produce one. One little incident may go a long way to explain why it didn't happen. The same year that he got married, 1762, he had a party here at Dumfries House, and on that evening, the Earl of Montgomery – one of the guests – was expelled from Dumfries House after having been caught behind the curtains with the new Countess. And I think that, sadly, perhaps throws some very illuminating light on that second marriage. When we stand here today, the Fifth Earl is actually looking down upon the very pieces of furniture which he bought and commissioned for this room over 250 years ago. And that, really, I have to say, sends shivers down my spine every now and again. It's magnificent to have it all here and for it all to have survived in such good condition.
And one piece you really have to see before you leave the room is this wonderful 18th century Murano chandelier. When we first took the house on, this was in many, many pieces in a storage cupboard downstairs and, you know, one has training but certainly not to the degree that one would dare assemble an 18th-century chandelier. We fortunately were able to get some funding and sent it to a workshop in Kent. And I got a phone call from the lady there, three days later, very excitedly telling me that all the pieces were still there, they just needed to be thoroughly cleaned, put back together, and then the team came up to hang it here. It is really the crowning glory in this piece. And if you see that lit, candlelit at night, you really…
this really brings this room to life like none of the others in the house. It's one of the most amazing experiences in the house. 'The Island of Murano, just two miles north of Venice, has been the centre of Venetian glass-making since 1291 when the danger of fires in the wooden buildings of Venice caused glass foundries to be moved to the island. Murano was at the forefront of world glass-making technology. Murano foundries were the first to make mirrors, and while its exponents' social standing was such that blue-blooded Venetian families even allowed them to marry their daughters, they were forbidden from leaving the region lest their secrets went with them. Intact examples of Murano chandeliers from this period are extremely rare. Experts believe this stunning piece would command tens of thousands of pounds at auction. The Prince is ever conscious of the loss to the countryside of traditional skills in areas such as dry-wall construction, woodwork and stonemasonry, which he sees as vital sections of rural heritage that are threatened with extinction.
Although such trades remain in demand, opportunities for training are few and hotly contested. The Skills Centre at Dumfries House helps young people take the first step on a career path that can keep them in valued jobs that will hopefully save them from leaving their communities behind in search of work. The long-term survival of the local community is a core factor in the Prince's planning. Prince Charles, an enthusiastic supporter of initiatives to give young unemployed people a break, enjoys his first chance to meet local youngsters who are the direct beneficiaries of the Skills Centre.' It was… Was it bigger than that one? – Oh… – It is. If you tried to lift it, it would be the end of you. It would take about six of us. I see you haven't squashed your toes or your fingers yet. – No. – Well done. 'By way of thanking the many supporters of his vision for Dumfries House, Prince Charles has invited donors and local dignitaries to the house for a champagne reception and dinner.
This makes for a lot of preparatory work for the house's young staff.' (Low conversation) 'Helping with preparations is butler, Mark Burns, another of the local unemployed youngsters afforded a second chance.' I was unemployed for about ten months. It was a low part of my life because I had nothing to do. I was just lying about the house all day. Then my local JobCentre pointed me in the direction of the Prince's Trust. I came to Dumfries House, did my two working days' trial. I met the Prince on one of them. Then I got the phone call the next day to say that I'd got the job. It has changed my life because now I've got a house on the estate. 'With the special guests, including Commonwealth ambassadors, arriving for dinner with the Prince, the team rush to get things ready. It's an exciting and nervous time for the young workers.
' Good evening. How are you? 'One of them is events assistant, Craig Walker.' I thought I had no chance of getting the job but when I found out that I got it, it was unbelievable, I couldn't believe that I'd been picked. Before, I just used to do casual work, delivery driving for take-aways and working in local pubs and clubs. It changed my life. I love it. I wouldn't change it for the world. We're very proud of what we've done here at Dumfries House and it's not just about this wonderful house and its collection, which has been quite a labor of love but quite an extraordinary journey. His Royal Highness, with his own vision and direction, immediately said, "Heritage-led regeneration." That's an easy thing to say, but you've got to put it into action. Jess, you start here with the bread. – When do I put the Prince's down? – Straightaway. You'll be the first one in the room and Craig will be just behind you. Okay, so you and Craig will come in straightaway before the rest of the staff.
You'll come straight to this table, plop his bread down just there and then trot back to Mrs. Wilson. So what's for the future? The young people, some of which were serving dinner tonight, came to the house with no job, no real prospects, and now they have it. Because we're delivering for the community here in the most deprived area of the United Kingdom. Thank you again for your support and enjoy the evening and I promise to be even better attired for dinner. (Laughter) Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to take you around the house tonight. We're getting the wonderful opportunity to take people back – particularly in the evenings – to the house and the collection, and to talk about that in a little bit more depth, to make everybody understand why it was so important to save this house from being sold. 'It's a testament to the Prince and his generous supporters that in a few short years, he has not only saved the house and its precious contents, but has turned the lives of many local youngsters around.' Everyone can't get enough of the Prince, and this house is amazing. Everyone is so interested and can't believe just how well he's done.
He's fantastic. The time he's got for young people is unbelievable. Even today, I just watched him speaking to everybody. He speaks to everybody he sees. Very generous. I want to stay here for another three or four years, doing what I'm doing, progress my skills as a butler. I've been to Buckingham Palace, worked in the Palaces down in England, doing well. I'm just hoping to progress my career and hopefully keep working for the Royal Family. I want to stay within the royal kind of side of things. If I can make my maybe a different country, a different house. But I love this house too much just now to leave it. Well, hopefully I can progress here and just see where it takes me, really. I'd like to continue working with the Prince in the long term, but we'll see. 'No historic home can survive without attracting its own stories of phantom figures, and Dumfries House numbers two distinct ghost stories of its own.
One of whose specters divulges its presence only to those with a keen sense of smell.' There used to be the odor of incontinence appearing suddenly out of nowhere and usually in very inconvenient situations when you were just taking a private tour. And suddenly people would get a bit shifty on their feet and look around them and there was this very, very unpleasant smell. And it literally followed us some days. When we were fortunate enough to restore the entire house, including the electrics and the plumbing, lo and behold, the smell was gone – or so we thought. I did smell it the other day. I just got a whiff of it but, you know. In this particular room a couple of seasons ago, I took a small group of people around. And I was standing exactly here with my back to the door.
That leads into the bedroom. As I stood here, a lady was standing roughly where you are now, and I could literally see the color drain from her face. And she said she just saw somebody walk through that door, up behind me and disappear. And her face really had gone white. So, she got a shock at something. But two members of the family did die in that family bedroom. We are in the family bedroom and we are next to this magnificent four-post bed that has just been restored. And it looks exactly as it would have looked over 250 years ago. And if you look at the carving, it's absolutely crisp. It's beautiful. Can you imagine how labor intensive and how much skill this takes? This is one piece of mahogany. And one of the crucial things about this bed which had got lost in time was to do with the tester, the head of the bed, the crown of the bed up there. If you look very carefully, you can see it is now covered in silk. This was a huge amount of work. There were 15 people working on this.
It took them over 800 man-hours to stretch the silk and to paste it onto every crevice and nook and cranny. There is a sort of romantic sub-plot to this bed. One could perhaps go so far as to describe it as the biggest ally that the Fifth Earl had in his quest for a new wife. This was the bait that he would put out. If you look at it, it's quite a romantic bed with this shell motif, the central shell motif, which we see from three sides. Perhaps allusions to a temple of Venus… i.e. a temple of love. 'The bed has been valued at over half a million pounds.' I have never ever dared lie on this bed. Okay, this is the one and only time. It's definitely a shoes off and white glove moment. Oops! Well, what can I say? Where's the Earl? No, it's wonderful. I can imagine this, to spend a really comfortable night in here. Not bad.
Never again! I think it's rather wonderful. You get a full view of the roof. That's wonderful. That's lovely. Oh, dear! Look at this. I don't know why that crumples up quite so much. 'A country house of this size – Dumfries House has exactly 100 rooms – allowed its designers to build rooms and to decorate them with a purpose in mind.' The decoration gives you clues to what the room was for. Up in the corners there, you'll see baskets of fruit, sheaths of wheat, grapes on the vine. Above the door and just behind me, above the windows, there's a wine jug and a glass, more grapes on the vine. And up above the fire, sheet music and instruments. So all of these are indications that this was a room to come and relax in. And would you believe, that's a known piece of music. It's called, There's Nae Luck Aboot The Hoose – there's no luck in the house.
We took a choral society around the house a couple of years ago. They came in here. They must have had sharp eyesight because they saw that and burst into song. # For…there's nae luck aboot the hoose, there's nae luck at all # There's nae pleasure in the hoose when our gudeman's awa # For there's nae luck aboot the hoose, there's nae luck at all # There's nae pleasure in the hoose when our gudeman's awa # Nae luck # 'Known both for his personal interest in, and for his patronage of, the arts, another vital element to the Prince's plans for Dumfries House was an artists' retreat. It attracts and supports young artists from all over the country. But before it was built, where to place it was the big question. The answer came in the abandoned shell of the former laundry building. You should have seen it before.
You couldn't see it when I first arrived. It was hidden in this overgrown wood. All the trees were growing out of the building. No roof or anything. It was completely and utterly derelict, just the stone, you know, surround. We had, you could imagine, endless discussions about what do you do with this and what do you do with that building and how do we… We went round and round in circles and some things… we almost started and then had to stop. Anyway, hopefully that will contribute something to the area as well. 'Two of the art students taking advantage of the new facilities are Poppy Chancellor and Tim Lees.' It's an amazing place. Really beautiful landscape and incredible studios which are nicer than my house and just fitted perfectly for an artist, really. They're incredible. Really, really good. I think they are phenomenal. I have never worked somewhere that is this beautiful.
So, to have your subject outside the door, is just such a relief and an absolute pleasure. 'Prince Charles is not only a patron of the arts, he is also an accomplished water colorist himself.' His watercolors are good. He could teach me a thing or two, maybe. He's good. He's really good. We had a tour of Dumfries House this morning and I said, "God, those are really nice! Who did those?" And then she said it was the Duke of Rothesay's work on the wall. And I just thought, "Wow! He can kind of do it all." 'Whilst today's artists work their magic in the purpose-renovated laundry building, over in Dumfries House spectacular artistic achievements from the 18th century are on permanent display.' This beautiful chair was meant to be appreciated from the front in particular.
Very plain material at the back Get the gloves on. It's too priceless. You don't want to touch this with our bare hands. But I'm going to tip it back carefully, and you might be surprised just how rough some of the carving looks from underneath here. What you don't see, you don't pay for and why spend a lot of time and labor on embellishing the underside of a chair which you never see? That chair was £4.50 originally. But, of course, he didn't just buy one, he bought 14. A similar chair was sold at an auction a few years ago for £1.4 million. So you understand why we're doing gloves. And the bookcase. I definitely need to hold on to these gloves, and you need to hold on to your hats. This bookcase, had it gone to auction, it's said to have fetched up to £20 million.
It appears that the Fifth Earl had a knack for buying bargains. It was just 47 pounds and six shillings. It is not very much at all – even then. It is broken but it's an historic break. We are very keen to preserve 18th century breakages. That has been very much our ethos – to restore but not to take away anything that is authentic. This is just a wonderful piece of furniture. In stylistic terms, this really sums up Chippendale's early career, the Rococo style, and it also is one of the most accomplished pieces we have in the house, combining many different skills. So, here it is. It's one of the most celebrated pieces in the collection. 'The Prince is keen that the house and grounds remain very much a public facility, in stark contrast to its former role.' I was actually born in the area, and when we were children, the family who previously owned the house were still in residence and there was a groundskeeper here, so we didn't really come here because it was forbidden to the locals.
So to come here and to see it, was like stepping into a myth from your childhood and seeing it become real. People come round all the time, they can walk their dogs and every kind of thing. And they can come to the restaurant, the cafe, and have their tea and cakes and bring the children. You know, all that sort of stuff. So, it's making such, I hope, a better virtuous circle. 'Prince Charles is an enthusiastic gardener with strong views on the production of organic foodstuffs. So an opportunity to preside over the restoration of what was once one of the largest walled gardens in Europe, is one that he has relished.' The other part I want to do here is, obviously, develop the gardens so that they become an attraction as well.
It's no good just having the house. You've got to have the garden and how it links into the local community. So the kitchen garden – the walled garden – is frightfully important because it's an even better way to link with the local community. Because now they will be able to use it – all sorts of different groups – from growing vegetables or doing this or old box schemes and children's, you know, opportunities, and also horticultural skills training. Because that's another big need. So, if we're really clever, you know, you link all this training with the needs of the employers and the different sectors. So you find out where their skill shortages are. Do you see what I mean? And then try to see if we can help fill that in by improving the opportunities and chances for local people. 'Estate manager, Oliver Middlemiss, has called a meeting. Present is garden designer, Michael Innes.
On the agenda today is the massive arboretum that will form the pathway from the house to the gardens.' We're going out with His Royal Highness at 10 o'clock to have a look at some of the parklands and policies, at some of the gardening and tree planting projects. Yeah, he likes to get his welly boots on and chat over what the new plans are. He's very keen to show you exactly what his ideas are and for the next visit, you've hopefully put them into practice. So what we tend to do now is to have a cup of coffee, look at the plans the guys have come up with and then we go out and have a chat about it. Our coffees are here. – Yeah. – Excellent There we go. Ah. Here we go. The main elements to the plan are the walk between the Adam Bridge and the walled garden. The fact that we might consider a pond which is interlinked either side of the north drive, and the fact that we will need a network of paths through the arboretum area. Consideration being given to some sort of central woodland building because that would act as a focal point et cetera.
How many trees at the minute are on that plan? – Approximately 250. – Yeah. 200 to 250. Any idea on species at the moment? Yeah, I will hand the Prince a list of suggested trees today. And it is then for him to give us feedback on those that he likes, doesn't like and so on. But it is an arboretum. The term arboretum really means a collection of trees, so, in some senses, we're looking for as many different varieties as possible. 'Traditional carpenter Jonny Briggs owes a lot to the Prince's Foundation.' I started by getting involved with the Prince's Foundation and was a building craft apprentice for nine months. And I worked around the country, learning about traditional building and sustainability.
And since then, I've continued to build and design small garden structures using traditional techniques and involving crafts such as thatching and wattle and daub. I think what the Prince has done is opened up a lot of opportunity to a lot of people, including myself. Yeah, I think he's a bit of hero. I hold him in big regard, really. I think the opportunities to everyone involved, from the staff to the external contractors, to the children, to the local community, is just a really positive thing to be happening. 'The walled garden dates back to 1760 but it hasn't been worked on for more than 100 years. As a heritage regeneration project within Dumfries House Estate, this is a huge undertaking.' It's a big project, that one. As you see, it's on a terrifying slope. You have to terrace it, really. And why they didn't do that in 18th century, I don't know. I mean..
. It's very exciting. It really is. With good wind behind us, we can do it in probably about a year and a quarter. The main work, though… What's going to take the longest is wall building. The walls themselves will be interesting because they'll divide the garden up. They'll look nicer. We'll be using old stone. We can grow things against walls and all of that. But walls, retaining walls, take a long time to build. Plus, we need good weather because you can't build if we've got a hard Scottish winter or if we have too wet a Scottish summer – which is always a big problem here. 'The Prince has been involved with the garden design from the very start. His input and attention to detail keeps everyone focused. He's had a lot of input. He has input in terms of the initial thinking behind it – what sort of garden are we trying to create? Is it modern, does it reflect a historic house et cetera. And then he has input into individual aspects of the garden – path surfacing, path edging, stonework, what sort of stonework we use, what sort of coping. All of these things.
.. He's got a great interest in it all. And he's very knowledgeable. And the plant content. He definitely has his favorites but he understands that people like all sorts. He loves the detail. Can be pretty busy when HRH is going to arrive. Again, it's all laid out very clearly weeks in advance about what's happening on the day itself. The key thing is to have a team working with you who can take these projects and deliver them for you. And once the day arrives, everything should be in place for it to go smoothly after that. 'As the Prince makes his way to the gardens, finishing touches are being worked on by garden tutor Christine Jones.' It's been a bit of a haul, but we managed. We finished about seven last night. Everything's in place.
We've had a lot of help from all the volunteers and it's just all come together at the right time. 'For the past few weeks, schoolchildren and youth organizations have been working hard to make sure that the garden is ready for the royal visit. The Prince has plenty of wisdom to impart to the youngsters.' You have to put all sorts of delicious things in. You have to stir muck and things in, don't you, into the soil. That's what gives it terrific excitement. Then you get the worms in and they make the whole difference. You've got to find some muck from somewhere. It's the best thing in the world. Do you like vegetables? Do you eat any? – Yes. – Do you? What's your favorite? – I like cucumber. – Do you? – Yeah, and carrots. – Carrots. – Leeks? – No, I don't like them. No? They're going to be planting some, anyway. Whether you like them or not.
What about Brussels sprouts? – Not really. – I don't know why it is, I love Brussels sprouts. Maybe it's something, as you get older, you like them. The great thing is that it will link with the local community and try to see if we can encourage more children to understand where their food comes from. There's so many children – and adults, actually – that don't realize that a carrot comes out of the ground. They do not understand where they come from, let alone the complexity of farming or horticulture. And this is a place where they can see that in action. – A small gift for you. – Already? – Would you like some lettuces, sir? – Thank you very much. Just what I've been looking for. – Is that for me? – Yes. – Thank you. Are these ones you planted? And which variety are they, do you know? – No. – Ahh. – Salad bowl. – Is it salad bowl, is it? – Is that for me as well? – Yes.
– Are you sure you can spare it? – Yes. Thank you very much. It's wonderful. It just shows, doesn't it, if you plant something it does grow. Thank you. The hope that it can give the community, I think, is quite powerful. It's also quite tangible. We've met some local people and they're talking about the difference it's making to them already in their lives. The key, really, I think, is to try to encourage people to understand the relationship between, you know, the soil and what they're eating but also I hope it might inspire some to want to go on and study more. But the fun is for all the local groups and so on to come and use this sort of garden for their own purposes. To grow things and everything else. 'Dumfries House might have spent most of its existence unoccupied, but for the man behind the grand mansion's renaissance, the opportunity to claim a small piece for his own use was simply too enticing to pass up.
' This corridor, as you see it today, is a great tribute to His Royal Highness's involvement here. When we first took the house on, this was painted white, with flaking paint and a few paintings on the wall, a few chairs dotted along the walls, but altogether a much-neglected space. And His Royal Highness from the outset wished for something that was rather counteracting anyone's expectations as they came up the stairs. And we have been able to create a wonderfully fulsome hang with these beautiful golden frames being particularly emphasized since the walls have been painted green. It really has totally transformed this space. It's become one of the highlights of the house. 'As the Prince makes his way to officially open the Outdoor Activity Centre, excitement on the estate reaches fever pitch with the arrival of two very special first-time visitors.' (Pipes and drums) (Excited chatter) You've got the warmest hands here.
(Laughter) Ooh. They're actually quite chilly! Pop them in here. Hang on. Thank you. Did you choose these? They're very pretty flowers, aren't they? It's interesting. (Chatter and laughter) – Did you see the assault course? – Yeah. It's fantastic. Nothing can give me greater pleasure than to be able to welcome my eldest son and his wife here, my daughter-in-law, today, so they can see what we're doing here and to be able to meet so many of you. So now I just wanted to declare the new Tamar Manoukian Outdoor Centre open. If you all get to your fence now, everybody go to yours. 'The opening of the Outdoor Centre, the Cook School, the Artists' Studio and the Traditional Craft Centre, brings to a close this phase of work on the Dumfries House Estate.' Want some haggis? 'The Prince is passionate about the house as he is about the dedicated people that make it work from day to day. He has spent a lot of time and energy opening this 18th-century gem to the people from the local community and to those far and wide.' In the end, hopefully, it will prove to be somewhere really interesting for people to come and they can walk, the whole thing.
If I'm still alive by then. I don't know. 'And what of the staff of Dumfries House, some of them unemployed young people, caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time, given a second chance? A chance to make something of their lives.' If I had to sum up what this job means to me in one word, I would have to say "life." Because my whole life has changed and it's given me a life and the house becomes part of your life. It really gets under your skin. And to think this could have been lost without the Prince. I'm going to say, "heart-warming." Inspirational. Unique. Visionary. I think the one word to sum up the estate would be "opportunity." I think "unbelievable." Unbelievable more than anything. Unbelievable. It's fantastic.
I've got so many words I could choose. Not one negative. It is life changing. That dreaded business of trying to find one word… What do you think, perhaps supercalifragilistic- expialidocious? Its success is something quite atrocious. "Success," perhaps, is the one word, I think..