News. The Tapestry Room’s marble fireplace

30th of November, 2017

The Tapestry Room‘s marble fireplace hides a tumultuous history behind its exterior. It has survived not one, but two house fires, with only a few surface flaws marking its ordeal. “You can see damage along the top mantle shelf where parts have been damaged during the salvage operations,” mentions Head Guide Alex Macdonald, “possibly by crowbars or pinch bars.”

Originally, the fireplace was mounted within the 3rd Earl of Bute’s Bedfordshire home before a fire demolished the residence in 1843. Luckily the fireplace was amongst a selection of items that were salvaged, before it was relocated to it’s second home at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute. A bellowing fire also devastated the house in the winter of 1877 but the fireplace again emerged intact – swiftly finding safety at Dumfries House. Now a focal point within the tapestry room, the fireplace sits with a set of glazed cabinets on either side, crowned with a portrait of John Dalrymple – uncle of the 5th Earl of Dumfries.

However there remains one mystery, as Macdonald reveals. “One of the strange things for me is that there is Roman tablet in the centre of the chimneypiece” mulls Macdonald. “It shows what appears to be a chariot, being drawn by stags but it tows a moth or butterfly on a rope attached to the rear end of the chariot. I often ask guests who may have an interest in the classics and mythology what it relates to but I’ve yet to find anyone who can tell me.”

Any visitors with a penchant for classics are welcome to try their hand at solving this puzzle.

Find out more about the Tapestry Room here