They turned the clock back to a golden age yesterday when the doors swung open at Dumfries House.
For more than two centuries, the stately home had stood like a time capsule containing one of the world's most exquisite collections of furniture and artefacts.
This was the house for which Thomas Chippendale crafted some of his most daring and magnificent creations.
The place for which the first Axminster carpet was fashioned. And where, since those unsurpassed days of Georgian taste and splendour, it had all remained under one roof as the nation's best-kept heritage secret.
National treasure: Dumfries House will open its doors to the public for the first time in 250 years after being saved for the nation by Prince Charles
Until yesterday, that is - when the first official preview gave a tantalising taste of what will be on show when the Palladian mansion opens to the public from Friday.
What visitors will see is not just a treasure trove of the most passionately executed craftsmanship of the 18th century - but a fascinating glimpse into the aristocratic lifestyles of a bygone era.
The Ayrshire mansion, former home of the Marquesses of Bute, was saved for the nation through a dramatic intervention by the Prince of Wales when he discovered the house and furniture were due to be sold separately.
It had stood virtually empty since 1993 after the death of Eileen, the dowager Marchioness of Bute, the last member of the family to live there.
It was only when she died that the full extent and value of the collection became known.
The house and contents were put up for sale for years ago by the current marquess, former racing driver Johnny Bute.
He was persuaded to cancel the sale just 30 minutes before the deadline. Had it gone ahead, a unique collection of precious and historic items would undoubtedly have been scattered around the globe.
Some were already billing it as the furniture sale of the century. Prince Charles described the prospect as 'a major tragedy'.
Workman John Morisson cleans the ceiling in the main front hallway of the Georgian building
Now, the last-minute salvation of Dumfries House is being widely described as a spectacular triumph for national heritage.
Because the house has barely been lived in, furniture and fittings remain in excellent condition.
Five months of restoration 'at breakneck speed', as the renovators described it, then returned the rooms to their original glory. So now, for the first time in a history spanning three centuries, bookings are being taken for public tours.
The remarkable story of the mansion's creation reads like the plot of a period drama.
The fifth Earl of Dumfries built and furnished it in 1759 as a fabulous love nest - part of an increasingly desperate bid to lure a suitable young wife.
Architects were the Adam brothers, responsible for designing some of our most celebrated stately homes.
Furniture was by Chippendale, who used the commission as a testing ground for his growing interest in rococo style experiment. Scotland's finest cabinet-makers of the age were also drafted in.
Central to the Earl's cunning plan was a splendid four-poster bed, a hand crafted masterpiece which, he hoped, would prove irresistible to a fair maiden of his choice.
Alas, his quest was forlorn. He never managed to entice the object of his attentions - and although he later married, his wife produced no heir and played around with other men.
But the bed remains an intriguing centrepiece of what many regard as examples of Chippendale's finest work.
Dumfries House is regarded as one of Robert and John Adam's most important Georgian masterpieces
Flick the pages forward nearly 250 years, and the period drama takes on the flavour of a 21st century thriller.
With just hours to spare before house and contents were due to be dismantled and sold last year, Prince Charles stepped in. The Prince's Charities Foundation contributed £20million towards the purchase - and he personally led a consortium of charities and the Scottish government to seal a £45million deal last summer.
Had he failed, many of the treasures would almost certainly have gone abroad, and the hallmark of three centuries might have disappeared from these shores.
As for the house itself, it is not difficult to imagine the Prince's concern for its future. One proposal was to convert the grounds into a go-kart track.
Yesterday the last-minute nature of its rescue was perfectly illustrated by separate pieces of paper. One was a handwritten bill from the archives, an invoice from one T. Chippendale.
The other was a catalogue tag that Christie's had already tied to a bed in preparation for the auction.
The mansion's treasures include a late George II mahogany four-post bedstead, worth between £300,000 and £500,000
Pictured: The magnificent interior of stately home saved by Prince Charles | Mail Online