When Dalmeny House was completed in 1817, it marked a great departure in Scottish architecture. Its Tudor Gothic style, with its highly-decorated chimneys and crenellations, looked back toward fanciful 16th-century English mansions, such as Hampton Court.
With its Gothic Great Hall and corridor, its large, formal regency apartments and its sweeping views across the Firth of Forth, it is a house which combines comfort and romanticism. It has produced many imitations throughout Scotland.
As one wanders through the house, each room opens up a new experience, highlighting different parts of the remarkable collection of art and objects.
Today, Dalmeny House preserves the overall feeling of the family home that it still is.
The Library is used by the family when entertaining, as well as by corporate and group visitors. It is a splendid yet comfortable room with beautiful views over rolling parkland leading down to the sea.
Birthplace of the Edinburgh Festival
This room can be considered as the birthplace of the Edinburgh Festival, the capital city's renowned celebration of the arts each summer.
In 1946, the 6th Earl of Rosebery was appointed chairman of the newly-formed Scottish Tourist Board. His wife Eva, an accomplished amateur pianist, was instrumental in bringing together the city and tourist authorities with the distinguished group of music and drama producers who were seeking a suitable British site for an international festival. Without their influence - and the funding Lord Rosebery provided from his Derby prize-money- this wonderful event might well have gone elsewhere.
The Library - looking towards the Gothic Corridor
The Architect of Dalmeny House, William Wilkins, designed the two-storey Entrance Hall with a decorative hammer-beam ceiling. It is similar to the one he later created for the Hall at King's College, Cambridge.
The paintings include several family portraits. Examples include:
Sir Archibald Primrose, who bought the Dalmeny and Barnbougle estates in 1662
A fine portrait by Millais of the 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), who succeeded W.E. Gladstone as Prime Minister in 1894
Hannah Rothschild, wife of the 5th Earl, from whose family home, Mentmore Towers, came much of the collection of 18th-century French furniture and porcelain now housed at Dalmeny.
The present Earl of Rosebery with his family.
The marble bust of Gladstone was made during the Midlothian election campaign of 1879 which returned him to power. The sculptor, Boehm, sat opposite Gladstone, one modelling while the other wrote his speeches.
Five delightful tapestries of Spanish childhood scenes were designed by Francisco Goya for Spanish royal palaces and woven in 1800. Except for a set owned by the Queen, they are the only such tapestries outside Spain.
Dalmeny Drawing Room
This room contains part of the magnificent collection of French furniture from Mentmore Towers. Mentmore was the house built by Baron Meyer de Rothschild, whose only child Hannah married the 5th Earl of Rosebery.
The room is arranged to show the changes in style over a hundred years, from the baroque splendour of Louis XIV, through the Rococco exuberance of Louis XV to the severe Neo-Classical grandeur of the reign of Louis XVI, cut short by the Revolution of 1789.
The collection of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain at Dalmeny covers the period of greatest creative achievement in this most difficult of decorative arts.
New colours, forms and methods of painting came out of the French Royal factory in splendid profusion. This reflected both the State's interest in a lucrative trade and the personal influence of figures like Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress and arbiter of taste.
Like the furniture in the Drawing Room, Dalmeny's porcelain collection is a superlative guide to a long period of stylistic change from the earliest pieces of the Vincennes factory in the 1750s to the passage of Sèvres under revolutionary control in 1789.
This room gathers together all the Napoleonic art and objects assembled by the 5th Earl of Rosebery. It represents the most important Napoleonic collection outside France.
The collection includes pictures of Napoleon and members of his family by Appiani, David, Lefebvre, Giroolet and Wicar. It includes Napoleon's throne as First Consul, his magnificent shaving stand from the Palace of Compiègne and his shutters, desk and chair when in exile on St. Helena. It even displays the pillow on which his head rested after his death.
As a contrast, it also contains the ingenious collapsible campaign chair of the Emperor's most implacable opponent: the Duke of Wellington.
Napoleon and The 5th Earl
The 5th Earl was a historian as well as a politician. He was fascinated by the enigma of greatness: those mysterious qualities which mark the individuals who change the course of events. Napoleon, in particular, was a lifelong interest.
The Dining Room has been described as a meeting of minds from the 18th century. Every figure represented in its more than twenty portraits and busts was acquainted with at least one of the others. Few rooms anywhere can boast such a galaxy of luminaries- both in terms of the sitters and the artists who painted them.
As well as family portraits by Raeburn, Romney and Gainsborough, the pictures include famous figures from politics (William Pitt, Henry Dundas), literature (Dr. Johnson, Edward Gibbon, George Selwyn), naval history (Admiral Rodney, Lord Nelson)- even music, in the pensive Raeburn picture of Neil Gow, the celebrated Scottish fiddler and the lovely portrait by Reynolds of the opera singer, la Contessa della Rena (who was also the mistress of at least two other figures in the room). Many of these pictures were bought by the 5th Earl of Rosebery for their interesting historical connotations, but the quality of the artists equals that in any national collection.
The Dining Room
A meeting of great minds from the 18th Century
The large bronze statue of a horse which greets visitors to Dalmeny House is a portrait of King Tom, the foundation stallion of Baron Meyer de Rothschild's Mentmore stud. Racing was close to the Baron's heart and he enjoyed remarkable success: he won the Derby, the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St. Leger all in one year, 1871.
The 5th & Racing
The 5th Earl of Rosebery had a great love of racing, starting when he was an undergraduate at Oxford. During fifty years of ownership, his rose-and-primrose colours won every "Classic", including three Derbys - the most popular of which was in 1894, when he was Prime Minister. There are portraits at Dalmeny of his best-known horses as well as the trainers and jockeys who made his success possible.
The 6th Earl & Racing
The 6th Earl inherited his father's love of racing and breeding horses. He eventually won over seven hundred races, including five "Classics".
His best-known horse was Blue Peter, who won the Derby and 2000 Guineas in 1939, only to be thwarted in his attempt at the Triple Crown by the outbreak of War.
The 6th Earl's sitting room is preserved as it was at the time of his death in 1974, with the year's list of mares, expected foals and yearlings standing by his desk. Devotees of racing will note many reminders of this enthralling sport.
The fan-vaulted corridor leading to the Hall is lined with wonderful 16th century German stained glass. They depict various saints but two were incorrectly assembled as can be seen by studying the pillars behind each standing figure.