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History

Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford remains today as one of the most famous houses in the world. It reflects, almost as no other place, the mind, enthusiasms and preoccupations of the man who built it. Constructed on the ample proceeds of a literary career without parallel, it is an enduring monument to the tastes, talents and achievements of its creator. The stones of Abbotsford speak both of triumph and disaster: first of literary and worldly success, then of fortitude as adversity was faced and ultimately conquered in Scott’s debt-ridden but noble final years.

Work is currently ongoing to catalogue Abbotsford’s extensive archive of family letters, diaries, photographs and other paper ephemera. If you would like to enquire about the contents of the archive, please contact the Heritage and Engagement Manager at sandra.mackenzie@scottsabbotsford.co.uk or on 01896-663978

Constructed on the ample proceeds of a literary career without parallel, it is an enduring monument to the tastes, talents and achievements of its creator. The stones of Abbotsford speak both of triumph and disaster: first of literary and worldly success, then of fortitude as adversity was faced and ultimately conquered in Scott’s debt-ridden but noble final years.

Abbotsford was the stone-and-lime love of Scott’s life. It was his most cherished possession, but it also possessed him. He called it ‘the Dalilah of his imagination’, his ‘Conundrum Castle’ and his ‘flibbertigibbet of a house’ that would ‘suit none but an antiquary’. Architecture and interior decoration combine to make it an iconic building of the 19th century Scottish Baronial style. With its wonderfully eccentric collections and antiquarian atmosphere, it is a key site in the history of European Romanticism.

The name of Abbotsford has gone round the world: there are Abbotsfords in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. There are no fewer than three London streets named after Scott’s home. Already in his lifetime Abbotsford was a place of pilgrimage for curious and well-informed tourists and after Scott’s death it rapidly assumed the character of a literary shrine – something it has never entirely lost. A place of wonder and pilgrimage Abbotsford remains, evoking the spirit of one of Scotland’s greatest sons.

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