Abbotsford House

October 13th, 2014Comments Off on Abbotsford House

On the last Monday in September as we approached Abbotsford House and Gardens the mists disappeared and the autumnal colours bathed the majestic home of Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832). Members of our U3A were joined by friends, family and members of the Kirkcudbright Literary and Kirkcudbright History Society for our trip to this ‘Scottish Baronial’ house which we are 003told after his death ‘assumed the character of a literary shrine’.

Scott, disabled as a child with polio, was sent to Roxburghshire to recuperate and this was the start of his love of the Borders. He returned to Edinburgh for his schooling and attended the University of Edinburgh from the age of 12. Combining his day job of Advocate, Judge and Legal Administrator with his writing, he achieved a truly international career with many readers in Europe, Australia and North America and was the first writer known to use literary agents to sell his works.

He was a compulsive collector, was fascinated by Napoleon Bonaparte (he produced a biography of the French military and political leader in 1831) and his sometimes quirky collection pieces were to be seen in each of the rooms we visited. We saw the huge keys from the Old Tollbooth Prison in Edinburgh, military memorabilia including execution swords, armour, rifles and Rob Roy’s sword, dirk and gun but sadly not his sporran which had been stolen just before our visit! Then from the elegance of the beautiful hand painted Chinese wall paper in the Drawing Room to the Library with its’ collection of 9,000 books and wonderful views sweeping down to the Tweed – there were treasures in each room.

We were told of his love of technology. Abbotsford was one of the first houses in Scotland to be lit by gas and the outer walls of the stunning walled garden were heated. The excellent weather allowed us to explore the river and the gardens and the newly built Visitor Centre offerings included a well curated exhibition on the life and times of this prolific author in addition to a restaurant and gift shop.

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The warm welcome by all the Abbotsford team and excellent guiding by Julie a nd Will combined with the balmy autumn day to make our day both interesting and enjoyable.

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