Standing on the banks of the River Tweed, Abbotsford was Sir Walter Scott’s creation and, after his death in 1832, somewhere visited by millions. It was built on the proceeds of a phenomenally successful literary career, and Scott became determined to keep it in his family as he worked to pay off huge debts after near bankrupcy in 1825. Abbotsford is an enduring monument to the tastes, talents and personal tragedies of its creator.

Scott was an obsessive collector of books, artefacts, weaponary and more, much of which can still be seen in the Abbotsford Collections.

But his home was his most treasured possession, its architecture and interior design made it an iconic building of the 19th century Scottish Baronial style, and it still remains a key site in the history of European Romanticism.

Haddington Group visiting 5 years ago.
Face mask of Mary Queen of Scots – for those with a keen eye.
Tapestries & paintings.
Sir Walter Scott. 1771 – 1832

Scott was born in Edinburgh’s Old Town in 1771. His father was a successful lawyer, his mother the daughter of a Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University. He was descended from some of the oldest families of the Scottish Borders, and after suffering polio in 1773, was sent to his grandfather’s farm at Sandyknowe in Roxburghshire, below the historic Borders keep of Smailholm and looking over the Eildon Hills. Living there until 1775, and listening to stories from his grandfather and others, the young Scott developed his life-long love of Border history and folklore.

Smailholm Tower. [ Exhibition of Miniature Dolls ]

On returning to Edinburgh, he attended the High School and Edinburgh University. In 1792, he became an Advocate, and was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire in 1799. This allowed him to travel across Scotland in search of history and material to use in his poetry and fiction, eventually publishing his monumental Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders in 1802.

It was in the Borders that Scott was happiest and, after initially renting a cottage at Lasswade, he and his wife Charlotte moved into a more substantial country house at Ashestiel near Selkirk in 1804. It was there that he wrote the great epic poems The Lay of the Last Minstrel [ 1805 ] , Marmion [ 1808] and the Lady of the Lake [ 1810 ] With his fame, fortune and family growing, Scott turned to creating Abbotsford, which was completed in 1824.

Photographs by Irene Higgenbotham, taken on a visit to Abbotsford in 2015.