Scott’s Abbotsford – Our inspiration…

Sir Walter Scott, the famous poet and novelist was born in the old Town of Edinburgh in 1771. However, in 1773, after polio disabled his right leg, he was sent to his grandfather’s farm in the Scottish Borders. Scott stayed at the farm for a few years where his life-long love of Border history began.

In 1775, Scott returned to Edinburgh to grow up in the Old Town and New Town. Eventually, Scott attended Edinburgh high school and then went on to attend the University of Edinburgh where he studied a law degree. He soon became an Advocate, working in Parliament Hall, yet it was not long until he was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire in 1799 (which we are sure Scott would have been ecstatic about as his new job role was located in the Scottish Borders!) Becoming the Sheriff-Depute of Selkirk allowed Scott to travel not just around the Borders but around Scotland were the Scottish history influenced his stories and poetry.

Even with his job in Selkirk, Scott and his wife still had their house in the New Town, Edinburgh whilst renting a country house in Selkirk. Soon, the country house became too small for Scott and his family so in 1811 he decided to buy a small farmhouse by the river Tweed, which we came to know and love as ‘Abbotsford’.

Abbotsford May 2016

Abbotsford is located in Galashiels (just two miles from Sinclair Duncan Head Office) which looks onto the River Tweed – a view Scott loved. Scott named his new home Abbotsford after the ford across the Tweed used in previous times by the monks of Melrose Abbey. Over time, Scott continued to buy more and more land from his neighbours, adding to his home which eventually turned into a mansion. Funnily enough, Scott had no intention of making his new home at Abbotsford a mansion; he just wanted to create more space for his family. However, because of his successful writing, his income allowed him to build many rooms at Abbotsford including, a library, a study, bedrooms, dining room, armour room and many more. The décor at Abbotsford was just breath taking and this is due to many professional architects, craftsmen, dilettante designers and friends contributing ideas and sketches to Abbotsford.

This week, Sinclair Duncan returned to visit Abbotsford, which was a fabulous day. The house is beautiful! It is full of extremely interesting stories and of course had the gorgeous view onto the River Tweed. A few of the rooms really captured our attention. One of which was the study… As you walked into the study you were met by Scott’s large desk where he used to write. All around the room are shelves full of classic books which inspired Scott’s writing. There is also a small door which led him to his dressing-room. It is a very small but detailed room and seemed very personal to Scott. In fact, it was the last room to be completed at Abbotsford.

The room next to the study is the library which the only word to describe it is ‘magnificent’. It is huge with ceiling-high book shelves, full of thousands of books. Everything in the library was extremely eye-catching; from the ceiling, to the paintings, to the antique furniture and of course the view from the room onto the glorious River Tweed. Next door to the library is the ‘drawing room’ which in Scott’s time was mostly occupied by his wife and daughters. What caught our eye about this room was the beautiful hand-painted Chinese wallpaper which was a gift to Scott from his cousin, as well as the huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

When Scott was having a social gathering he would open the door between the library and the drawing room to create more space for his guests at his famous parties. We could go on and on, Abbotsford is just full of history and happy stories. Each room is just as beautiful as the next and we’ve not even mentioned the beautiful gardens! We would definitely recommend visiting Abbotsford, we are sure you will leave there saying ‘I want a house like that’. We certainly did!

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Staff of Abbotsford House for their help in providing us with information about Sir Walter Scott and Abbotsford House.

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