Located on the peaceful banks of the River Tweed was a small farmstead, later demolished by Sir Walter Scott in order that he could commence building his own grand 'medieval' mansion. When he purchased the original farmhouse in 1812 it was known as Cartleyhole, but as the land was formerly owned by the monks of Melrose Abbey, and a ford used by them was situated close to the house, it seemed very appropriate to rename his new home 'Abbotsford'.
Having substantially enlarged the old property to accommodate his family and servants until the new home could be commenced some six years later, it was eventually ready for occupation in 1824. Scott's inspired design incorporating castle turrets, some architectural features seen in Melrose Abbey, and replicas of ecclesiastical statues, is both extremely artistic and very personal. Revered as the figurehead of the romantic historic movement in English literature, Sir Walter Scott certainly fashioned Abbotsford after a similar style.
After studying law at university, Scott became an Advocate, but when he married the more artistic side of his nature seemed to flourish and his time was spent largely on writing poetry. He had already started the famous series of Waverley novels before moving to Abbotsford, but the majority of his published works were written in the ground floor study he had personally designed. With his success as a novelist, and his reputation as an excellent host, the impressive library and spacious entrance hall at Abbotsford were ideal for Scott's busy schedule of entertaining.
Scott was a great collector of historic relics, and a stunning assortment of old guns, swords, knives and keys can be found ceremoniously displayed in the armoury. It is fascinating to make a thorough investigation of all the knick-knacks and assorted memorabilia present in the house just to appreciate how diverse Scott's interests and associations were. Some are obvious connections, such as Rob Roy's purse and gun, but the more obscure include a lock of Prince Charlie's hair, one of Robert Burn's tumblers, and a hunting bottle that belonged to James VI.
Still occupied by Scott's descendants, an almost tangible presence lingers of the great artist and historical collector that Sir Walter personified. His esteemed literary colleagues and admirers are also remembered at Abbotsford, as well as the many Royal visitors, including Queen Victoria and King George V, who visited the house after Scott's death.
With extensively planted grounds, and a delightful walled-garden, the atmosphere at Abbotsford is uncannily 'monastic'. This haven of tranquillity has certainly left a lasting impression on us, and there can be little doubt that Sir Walter Scott and his family enjoyed an idyllic lifestyle here nearly 200 years ago.