Photo essay: an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Dumfries House's grounds

The grounds of Dumfries House have been given a multimillion pound makeover, as evidenced in our exclusive photo essay by staff picture editor Christian Cooksey

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Rewind two years and the now magnificent walled garden was a derelict dumping ground. Equally, the house's arboretum, which today boasts more than 500 kinds of tree, two lochans, and a woodland shelter created by the students of the Prince's Foundation for Building Community, resembled a boggy wasteland.

This photo essay, comprising a collection of stills taken by staff picture editor Christian Cooksey over the course of a year-and-a-half, shows how far Dumfries House's grounds have come in the relatively short time frame.

In January 2013, Cooksey gained access to the grounds after watching a programme about Prince Charles and Dumfries House, and contacted a press officer at Clarence House. After various meetings, exclusive access was granted for Cooksey to record the project's development and all that it entailed.

This was no light seasonal update. The project necessitated 75 visits to its grounds for Cooksey to document it in its entirety, where he took around 6500 images overall. In order to achieve consistency throughout the shots he arrived at the grounds every Thursday at 4pm over the course of the year-and-a-half. During the winter months, armed against the elements in west and wellies, he arrived a little earlier to combat the fading light.

On the picture of Prince Charles, Cooksey said: "I received a phone call at 10.30pm to say that the Prince was visiting the house, and if I turned up at a very specific time I'd be able to get the shot. It was a quick chat with very few details.

"Interestingly, the Prince didn't cover the grounds in a car - only by foot, to take everything in.

"There were so many characters involved in the project - all the builders were local - so that was a real highlight of the project, to be able to meet them all.

"It took me three days to edit the images down to the ones featured, and 14 hours to put it all together.

"I'll be bereft without the project - but I have something new in mind already!"

The Royals

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