What we want to do


Shambellie House sits in 2.33ha on the edge of New Abbey and was built in1856.  It was given to the Scottish nation in 1977 when it became the National Museum of Costume. The museum closed in 2013. 

Shambellie House Trust was set up in 2015 in response to the museum closure, and has been working hard to develop a sustainable business case.

We held workshops that brought together an amazing group of enthusiastic and skilled tutors from a broad range of disciplines.  Together they are offering enough courses to run two a day for most of the first year rising to three a day by the third year. Our market research confirms a strong and growing market for these courses. 

But to deliver these high-quality courses we need to make some alterations to the house to

  • Make it fully accessible to all
  • Add a multi-purpose room for larger classes
  • Add all the necessary services
  • Add 12 bedrooms for the residential courses (with scope to add more later)

The architect produced an exciting scheme that protects and enhances the house while giving us the extra space and services we need at an estimated cost of £6.1m.  This was seen as too ambitious, so the Board asked the Design Team to re-work the scheme to reduce the overall capital cost to £4m while still being able to deliver all the courses.

The Business Plan estimates that even in the most pessimistic option the project will break even by the third year.  In future any surplus will be used to provide access to courses for disadvantaged groups.  

New staff will be employed to run the house, while services such as catering, grounds maintenance and some student accommodation will be contracted out locally.

An experienced group of tutors will set standards, help develop new courses and mentor new tutors.

We know that the project will

  • Contribute to small local creative businesses 
  • Attract new visitors
  • Promote the area’s culture and environment
  • Protect the heritage of the house and grounds 
  • Keep public access
  • Provide courses for disadvantaged groups

We also commissioned a detailed independent Economic Impact study which estimated the project will add almost £700,000 to the local and Scottish economy when account is taken of the direct and indirect benefits.  They estimate that overall this will support 30 jobs in the region and 5 more within Scotland.  A copy of this study is available to download – see below.

Raising £4m is now our target and the Board believe that some of this should be raised from the wider community in the region as well as people with a strong connection to the area.  To do this we needed to change the charitable company into a charitable community benefit society following a vote at an EGM in September.

Members will now be able to become shareholders and must hold at least 20 of the £1.00 shares.  Shares can be withdrawn but cannot be sold or traded.  

 A community share offer will also be launched to raise around £200,000 for the project.  All of this will be kept in a special account and should the project not go ahead all of this will be returned. Details of this will be available separately.