Good Reading : December January 2005
goodreading 35 writer’s house Sir Walter Scott had a deep love of the Border Country and the tales and ballads that surround it. He made many trips throughout his life into the valleys of Ettrick and Yarrow,Tweed and Teviot, and Liddesdale. When he was made Sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire in 1799 he found he needed to move closer to his work, so in 1804 he and his family moved to ‘Ashiestiel’ in the Tweed, which he rented from his cousins. As his tenancy came to a close he decided to become a Tweedside laird, purchasing in 1811, for 4000 guineas, a farm on the right bank of the Tweed. It consisted of about 110 acres on which stood a farmhouse called ‘Cartleyhole’. Sir Walter and his family, the farmhands and domestic servants and all their livestock and dogs moved into the farmhouse on 28 May, 1812, which he renamed ‘Abbotsford’ due to the land once being owned by monks. Before leaving ‘Ashiestiel’ he had completed The Lay of the Last Minstrel , Marmion and The Lady of the Lake but it was not until he moved to ‘Abbotsford’ that he penned the Waverley novels commencing with Waverley in 1814. As his success with his writings grew so too did the size of the house and the land holdings. By 1820 he had extended the estate to some 1400 acres and in 1822 he demolished the old farmhouse and rebuilt it. Scott filled his home with a fascinating collection of historical relics, including Rob Roy’s broad- sword, dirk, sporran purse and gun, relics from Waterloo, an impressive ar moury, a myriad of paint- ings and other intriguing objects such as a lock of Prince Charlie’s hair. He was famous for entertaining on a grand scale and many interesting guests came to stay at ‘Abbotsford’, amongst them Wordsworth and Thomas Moore. Scott died of a stroke in the dining room of his beloved ‘Abbotsford’ on 21 September, 1832; he was buried at Dryburgh Abbey just outside Edinburgh alongside his wife, who had predeceased him. Scott’s influence as a novelist and poet has been far reaching.Tolerance is a major theme in his works and he was the first novelist to portray peasant characters sympathetically and realistically, as he did merchants, soldiers, and even kings. He is considered the father of the historical novel and his work inspired such writers as the Brontës,Alexandre Dumas and Pushkin.With conflict between cultures one of his central themes, his work is just as relevant today. For further information please contact: Abbotsford, Melrose Scotland,TD6 9BQ Tel: +44 1896 752 043 Fax: +44 1896 752 916 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.sirwalterscottsabbotsford.com Above: Although the library held most of Scott’s books, the study pictured here, also held an impressive collection. His desk was made from pieces of wood from ships of the Spanish Armada. In 1935 a secret draw was discovered in the desk which held 57 letters of correspond- ence between he and his wife. Left: ‘Abbotsford’ the home of Sir Walter Scott. Below: The impressive walls of the drawing room are hung with Chinese hand-painted paper. In the far corner is an ebony roll-top desk given to Scott by King George IV, and in the glass wall case is an urn containing bones found at Athens in 1811 which was a gift from Lord Byron.