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Ten things you (probably) didn’t know about Abbotsford

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From its earliest monastic connections, to its status as the home of the oldest bound book in Scotland, these quirky facts will make you look at Abbotsford in a whole new light...

Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, is a historic house and garden in the Scottish Borders. Created almost 200 years ago on the banks of the River Tweed, the property is a monument to the tastes, talents and imagination of one of Scotland's best loved authors.

1: A new style

Sir Walter Scott built Abbotsford, his “conundrum castle”, between 1817 and 1825, helping to invent a new style of architecture in the process, which is known today as Scots Baronial. 

2: Total transformation

Abbotsford was originally a small, run-down farm called Cartleyhole, referred to as ‘Clarty Hole’ by locals, before Scott bought it and transformed it into one of the most famous houses in the world. 

3: Monastic connections

Scott rechristened his home ‘Abbots’ ford’ because the monks of Melrose, who had once owned the land, had forded the River Tweed just below the house. Scott incorporated features from Melrose Abbey into the design of his home and gardens. 

4: Inspiring architecture

Queen Victoria’s Balmoral Castle was inspired by Abbotsford’s architecture and Scott’s novels, and Rob Roy was amongst her favourites. She had actually been introduced to Scott as a young princess. 

5: Ahead of its time

Abbotsford was the first house in Scotland to be entirely lit by gas and also had an advanced system of hot air heating and flushing toilets. 

6: Archive evidence

In 2018 a £300,000 funded project restored Abbotsford’s woodlands paths and views of the River Tweed to Scott’s original vision, using evidence from the extensive Abbotsford Archive. 

7: Unforgettable reads

There are 9,500 books on the shelves in Abbotsford’s Library and Study, almost all still in the original place where Scott put them nearly 200 years ago. The Library’s contents span hundreds of years of publishing history, including the oldest bound book in Scotland. 

8: Publishing sensation

Scott’s Waverley sold more copies than all other UK novels combined that year (1814). 

9: A royal honour

Scotland’s crown jewels were rediscovered by Scott in 1818 and he was honoured with a baronetcy from the Prince Regent. 

10: A spirited defence

Scott is on the Bank of Scotland £5 note to commemorate his passionate defence of the £1 note in 1826. 

VISIT ABBOTSFORD HOUSE

Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, is located on the banks of the River Tweed in the Scottish borders. With a house (described as a monument to its creator), gardens, visitor centre and estate, Abbotsford offers something for visitors of all ages. For more information, visit the website.

(text, images and video copyright Abbotsford)

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