The Family Parlour. This room was intended as the principal living room of the house, although it was used as a dining room for a period of time in the 19th-century. As the name suggests it would have featured at the heart of family occasions and gatherings.
The splendour of the room is testament to the restoration work conducted by The Dumfries House Trust. Having been painted and gilded in the 19th-century, the room was restored to its original off-white colour scheme, providing a calm backdrop to the newly restored vibrant yellow silk damask on the chairs, sofa and curtains. This bright original colour scheme for the room brings light into a dark north-facing interior, and features the same patterns found in the Blue Drawing Room and Family Bedroom.
The 18th-century handmade festoon curtains are weighted with lead ‘plumbits’ (as Chippendale called the weights) sewn into the bottom edges of the curtains. The restored handmade tassels are copied from 18th-century originals, like the cloak-pins onto which the drawstrings are fastened. These were copied from the originals by Chippendale that are currently exhibited in the Blue Drawing Room.
Above the doors there are charming late 18th-century family portraits of the 6th Earl of Dumfries, Countess of Dumfries and their daughter, painted by a local artist, Anne Forbes. The portraits, acquired by The Dumfries House Trust from a member of the Crichton-Stuart family in 2011, are a reminder of the frequent use of the room by the resident families of the house.
Thomas Chippendale’s sinuously carved elbow chairs and card tables capture such movement, that some say it appears as if it could walk across the room. The upturned scroll feet and ornamental rails of the mahogany card tables with original timber patina (polish) are exceptional. The table-tops are lined with the original green baize and open with two-legged concertina-action. The great rarity of these table designs is underlined by the fact that none actually appear in any of the three editions of Chippendale’s Director. Alexander Peter’s hump-back sofa, situated below the buffet-niche, completes a truly magnificent collection of furniture.
The gilded eye-catching chinoiserie pier glass mirrors, originally cost £36.15 in 1759 and would have been painted white. The curtain cornices are made to the same design as found in the Family Bedroom and Blue Drawing Room, and would have been covered in stretched silk. The unusual carpet-pile fire-screen is attributed to Thomas Moore.
The decorative plasterwork of the buffet-niche (a dining room design feature very particular to 18th century Scotland) displays a mask of Bacchus, baskets overflowing with fruit, carafes of wine, music and a bow with a quiver of arrows, all recalling the pleasures of polite society that the 6th Earl of Dumfries would have partaken in.
The walnut harpsichord was made in London in 1772 by the prolific German born harpsichord maker, Jacob Kirkman.
Unlike the colourful venetian chandeliers adorning the Blue Drawing Room and Pink Dining Room, the fine-cut glass chandelier with its serpentine arms is English, most likely made by George Maydwell and Richard Windle, whose London showrooms on the Strand were probably frequented by the 5th Earl.