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ROBERT BURNS HOUSE DUMFRIES

Burns House Dumfries : Where is Dumfries? : More pictures of Dumfries.

This is the wee sandstone hoose that Robert Burns spent the last 3 years and 2 months of his short but illustrious life. Sitting halfway up a hilly but quiet Street in Dumfries, it's stature belies the Worldwide audience it attracts. Considering it's age the building is in amazing condition. Looking at other more weary structures on the same street, it tempts the thought that they don't make them like this anymore. Rabbie may have led an impoverished life, but he and his growing family at least had a good solid house to come home to at night.

The family moved in during May of 1793 full of excitement, Robert continued his job as Excise man, but moving here was the beginning of the end not only for Robert, but two of his children.

There is great consternation amongst hard-core Burns followers as to what ailment actually killed Scotland's most famous poet. Some say pneumonia, others rheumatic fever. The truth is - we don't know. What we do know is that Robert's friend Dr. Maxwell misdiagnosed him as having "Flying Gout" and the subsequent treatment of the day surely did nothing but exacerbate his ailing health. "Sea bathing" was prescribed.. and you can only imagine IF Robert had been suffering some sort of pneumonia based illness, what wading up to his shoulders in cold SW Scotland sea water would be doing to his innards. On 3rd July 1796 bent double in agony Robert went to Brow Well, a purported health spa of sorts 9 miles from Dumfries to begin his archaic treatment.

Burns House Dumfries
Burns House in Dumfries where poet Robert Burns became ill and died.

This daily ritual went on for over a week, then for some reason, perhaps stormy waters, he returned from Brow Well to the house on 18th July. Stumbling out of the horse and cart, it would be Roberts last walk up the four stone steps into the house, for he never came back out alive. Three days later on the morning of Thursday 21st July, Robert began rambling and reciting verse in a delirious manner. Jean Armour his wife quickly summoned the children who huddled around his bed. About twenty minutes thereafter Robert lapsed into unconsciousness and died at the young age of 37.

Much is written in book form and here on the Internet about the house and Robert Burns. Let's not forget for a moment about Robert Burns' wife Jean Armour. Moving here proved rather unlucky for Jean, if you are of superstitious mind. Three years after moving here Jean lost Robert her Husband. Almost another three years after that she lost the child born to Robert the same week he died, Maxwell Burns (2 yr 9 mo). Four years after burying her baby she loses another Son, Francis Burns (14 yr) in 1803. The house indeed offered Jean stability in the lives of her children, but undoubtedly great sadness. Jean Armour prevailed in the house and was a well liked parishioner of St Michael's Church, a short walk away. Jean herself lived out her life in Dumfries, passing away 38 years after Robert in 1834 at the age of 71.

I have never actually been inside the Burns House here in Dumfries. The picture at the top of the page was taken in 1984 on a passing visit on my motorcycle. I have seen limited pictures of the building on the Internet, but what I have seen makes it look like the stonework was re pointed using white mortar. Someone please e-mail me and tell me this is not true! A sandstone building with white mortar? What are they thinking? Artifacts inside according to the brochure, are some of the original Kilmarnock edition books as well as Burn's desk where he scribed many more of his famous poetic epistles.

For Robert Burns, life began in a small cottage in Alloway and ended here on a little side street in Dumfries. Burns House is just another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that made up the life and times of Scotland's most famous poet. My thanks to all the folk who keep the doors open and keep the work of Robert Burns very much alive in the hearts and minds of visitors from all over the World. Also the ongoing task in preserving the buildings that were a part of the Bards every day life. Thank you!

Martin J. Galloway Editor.
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