Dalmeny House is a Gothic revival mansion located in an estate close to Dalmeny on the Firth of Forth, to the north-west of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was designed by William Wilkins, and completed in 1817. Dalmeny House is the home of the Earl and Countess of Rosebery. The house was the first in Scotland to be built in the Tudor Revival style. It provided more comfortable accommodation than the former ancestral residence, Barnbougle Castle, which still stands close by. The house was visited in 1927 by the Queen, and her daughter Mary, the Princess Royal.
In the 13th century, the estate was the property of the Mowbray family, who built Barnbougle Castle. The estate was acquired in 1662 by Sir Archibald Primrose, whose son was created Earl of Rosebery in 1703. In 1774 Neil Primrose, 3rd Earl of Rosebery, commissioned Robert Adam to design a new house at Barnbougle, and in 1788 Robert Burn also provided designs. However, the Earl concentrated on the estate, carrying out woodland planting and constructing a walled garden. The son of the 3rd Earl, Archibald Primrose, commissioned further plans in the early 19th century: from William Atkinson (1805) and William Burn (1808). Again nothing was done until Archibald succeeded as 4th Earl of Rosebery in 1814. He then turned for a new house to Jeffrey Wyatt, who provided a Tudor Gothic design. Lord Rosebery approved, but wished to employ William Wilkins, with whom he had attended Cambridge. Wilkins was therefore asked for a Tudor Gothic design, which was eventually built in 1817.
In contrast to the exterior, most of the principal rooms are in the Regency style, with the exception of the hammerbeam roof of the hall. The house contains many paintings and items of furniture from both the Rosebery and Rothschild collections, as a result of the 5th Earl's 1878 marriage to Hannah, daughter and heir of Meyer de Rothschild. Much of the French furniture and porcelain came from the family's English mansion, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire, following the latter's sale in 1977. Dalmeny also holds one of Britain's largest collections of Napoleonic memorabilia. There is also An ancient iron-bound chest, said to have belonged to Captain Cook, the circumnavigator. The shape of the chest allowed it to fit snugly into a coach or the end of a ship. By a curious coincidence, the hill from which Captain Cook first saw from the sea was Rosebery Topping, the hill from which the Earl of Rosebery chose his title.
Other curios include : A mechanical dice-game made in Paris in 1737 and still in perfect working order. When the cord is pulled the three dice are automatically and, one hopes, randomly spun by a system of wheels and cogs; An antique oriental gong, once at Craigmillar Castle and subsequently at Duddingston Church, Edinburgh. It hangs on a frame made of wood cut down by Mr Gladstone when staying at Dalmeny. For more than a century the gong has been used to signal the time to go into dinner; A life-sized painted wood figure given to the 5th Earl of Rosebery by the Prince of Wales in 1897. In times past, figures like these used to stand in front of every tobacconist; now it signals that there is no smoking at Dalmeny - for the health of the objects. Covenanter's Execution Knife - this folding knife with two extremely sharp blades is almost one metre long. It was sold to the 5th Earl of Rosebery as a Covenanter's Execution Knife from Falkirk. And a Scold's Bridle. This so-called scold's bridle was designed to fit around the head of a nagging woman; the tongue-piece would have made any further conversation extremely difficult. There is no record of it having been used at Dalmeny.
The house stands in a large wooded park and enjoys views across the Firth of Forth. A public path runs along the shore, from Queensferry in the west, to Cramond in the east, although a passenger ferry across the River Almond that used to connect the path to the village of Cramond has not operated since 2000. There is also Staffordshire pottery figure of Benjamin Franklin, labelled George Washington. One can only assume that the factory could not tell one American from another! The house is open to the public for guided tours only. There is still a traditional agricultural estate of tenanted farms. The main collection is all on the ground floor and is generally accessible. Disabled access and toilet facilities are next to the tearoom, which is separately accessible from the back of the house. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Dalmeny House, South Queensferry, EH30 9TQ
Transport: Dalmeny (Scot Rail) then bus or taxi. Bus Routes : 40 stops 1 mile away
Opening Times : Sunday to Wednesday Guided Tours only 14:15 and 15:30 - June and July
Tickets : Adults £10.00; Concessions £9.00; Children (5 - 15) £6.50.
Tel: 0131 331 1888