Abbotsford House

Client: The Abbotsford Trust

Abbotsford, the world famous house and gardens in the heart of the Scottish Borders, is one of Scotland’s most precious cultural sites and is of world-wide importance. It is the creation of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scotland’s greatest writer and arguably the most influential Scot who has ever lived. Dating from 1811, it is the physical embodiment of his beliefs, ideals and imagination and is a unique expression of the Scottish National Identity that he created and which still endures as the defining image of Scotland and its people known throughout the world today, over two hundred years later.

Scott’s descendants cherished and preserved Abbotsford since his death but a lack of investment during the twentieth century resulted in a long slow decline that put the future of the property at risk. The conservation work carried out has reversed this decline and included comprehensive fabric repairs; repairs to garden structures; the installation of new mechanical and electrical building services systems; collections conservation; new interpretation and visitor facilities; a new 80 cover café; visitor access improvements; a new car park; new educational facilities and educational programmes.

The HLF funded conservation and development work related to Sir Walter’s “Conundrum Castle” involved comprehensive and meticulous fabric repairs; new mechanical and electrical systems; the conversion of the later Hope Scott wing to 5* visitor accommodation; and the integration of new interpretation facilities.

The conservation and development work was all based on a Conservation Plan for the House prepared by a team of experts led by LDN. The conservation strategy was to “do as much as necessary but as little as possible” in order to maximise retention of historic fabric.

Working closely with the client team, LDN coordinated a wide range of specialist consultants and contractors, including ecologists, archaeologists, interpretation designers, stained glass experts, cabinet makers, and paint, wallpaper and fabric cleaning specialists. Meticulous care was taken to ensure that repair work rectified defects but also maintained the patina of age and ancientness so important to Abbotsford’s delightful sense of place.

The work was funded by the Scottish Government, Scottish Borders Council, Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and a wide range of charitable trusts and individuals.

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