History

Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford is one of the most famous houses in the world.

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-bankruptcy 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, weaponry and more, much of which can still be seen in the Abbotsford Collections. But his home was his most cherished possession, ‘the Delilah of his imagination’, his ‘Conundrum Castle’ and ‘flibbertigibbet of a house’ that would ‘suit none but an antiquary.’ Its architecture and interior design made it an iconic building of the 19th century Scottish Baronial style, and it remains a key site in the history of European Romanticism.

Around the world, there are Abbotsfords named after Scott’s home, including in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States, as well as three London streets. Scott was a generous host and during his lifetime Abbotsford was visited by writers, politicians, noblemen and many of his readers. After Scott's death, it was opened to the public in 1833 and has never lost its place as a place of literary pilgrimage and monument to one of Scotland’s greatest sons.

Work is currently ongoing to catalogue Abbotsford’s extensive archive of family letters, diaries, photographs and other written materials. If you would like to enquire about the archive, please contact the Heritage Team.

Please be aware that our small team are handling a high volume of enquiries from all over the world regarding the Abbotsford collection. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

The Abbotsford Trust is not in a position to provide general genealogical support, or to estimate the market value of Scott-themed material in private ownership

There’s nothing so easy to invent as a traditionSir Walter Scott share this tweet
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