Category A
est. 1817-1824

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post TD6 9BQ
2m from Melrose
on A6081


opening times
house and grounds
gardens only
tours available


Listed Building Report
Abbotsford Site


Abbotsford House

Snow! In Scotland in May...well, not really. Fake snow. For the fake manor house of the fake spy in some movie. Some spy thriller was filiming here when we showed up (well, actually, they ere vacuuming up the snow after filming) and all the original furnishings from the house were in storage, repalced by modern glass furniture and movie props.

We can now say we've seen all four seasons in Scotland. Sort of.

the "snow" filled courtyard and facade of Sir Walter Scott's house


Abbotsford is best known as the home of Sir Walter Scott,and much is made of his personal effects in the house. It's an odd collection, to be sure, and most people visit to see the Armory and the study where he wrote his famous poems and novels.

Raeburn portrait of Sir Walter ScottScott bought 100 acres here-- a small farm called Cartleyhole -- in 1811 for £4.000. He and his family moved into hte farmhouse that year, but he immediately built a much grander house here (the west end of the current house). He banked on his future success as a writer. After demolishing the origina lnouse, he added on to the existing villa and the current house was finished in roughly 1824. He purchased a number of adjoining properties to expand the estate to 1400 acres, as well.

He was a bit too optimistic, apparently. Shortly thereafter, he fell into debt --but admirers not only gifted him iwth the contents of the library and his museum, but the entire debt was paid off after his death by Robert Cadell, a publisher, in 1847. He probably got the better of the deal - in exchange, he negotiated a share of the copyright of Scott's works.

The house was opened to the public in 1833 as a tourist attraction, but it has been lived in by a succession of Scott's desecendents until 2004, when his great-great-great-granddaughter, who had been in residence, died.


walking along the back of the house, toward the gardens

The original hnouse (1816-18) and first major expansion (1822-24) were built to the designs of the architects William Atkinson and Edware Blore. The house is in the Scots Baronial style, with various chimneypots, crow-stepped gables, and castle-like details. Scott incorporated pieces of amny other historical buildings, and copied much of the architectural details from his favorite abbey, Melrose.

The original Edinburgh Tolbooth gate is here.Also included are carvings from Threave Castle, attached to the gate. A gateway from Linlithgow Palace is here, a mantelpiece from Melrose Abbey itself, panelling from the Auld Kirk at Dumfermline -- he cannabilized other ruins and sites for bits and bobs to add to his creatiion here. Supririsngly, the whole of the house is very harmonious, all the bits and pieces of other buildings incorporated into the fabric of the house seamlessly.

from the steep bank of the Morris garden to the house

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