Thursday 27 August 2020

To Abbotsford

I can now add Abbotsford House, Tweedbank, in the Scottish Borders, to a small list of writers' homes I've visited. (A list that comprises, for those interested, Hardy's Max Gate and birthplace, Dickens's houses in Portsmouth and Doughty Street, James's Lamb House, any number of Goethe-Häuser in Germany, and of course a certain block of flats in Elm Park Gardens, London, the only trip that included a meeting with the author in question.)

Abbotsford isn't easy to access without a car. I do drive, but never on holiday. I wished I had my car with me today: rain sheeted down as I trudged along a deserted A-road through countryside cultivated but rugged. Abbotsford is a genteel fake baronial nineteenth-century castle in sight of the rushing Tweed. Scott built it from novel proceeds, but he didn't enjoy the finished article for long and his last years were ruined by ill-health and debt.

Abbotsford House

View of the Tweed

Back of the house

Books in Scott's study

Scott's desk and chair


Scott died on a camp-bed
in the bay window.

Death mask


  1. I didn't know (or at least don't remember) about Scott dying on a camp-bed in the dining room.

    Your selection of photos does bring to mind, if I remember correctly, a lovely passage in Lockhart where Scott, returning from the continent, gets wheeled around his house with boyish glee, so glad was he to be home.

    The library looks wonderful!

    1. The library was apparently completely preserved. How this was achieved I don't know, but it looked genuine. There was, for example, a large section on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. Volumes and volumes of Beaumont and Fletcher!


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