Heritage Scotland

Another page turned on the Abbotsford House refurbishment project

A thrilling project to restore Abbotsford House to its former glory is underway in Melrose.

Abbotsford House is located on the banks of the River Tweed in the heart of a beautiful landscape that inspired the poetry and novels of its creator, Sir Walter Scott. Claimed by some to embody a physical representation of the Romantic movement, the stunning development celebrates an impressive collection of historic relics, weapons and armour, along with an extensive library that contains over 9,000 rare volumes.

Under the £14.5 million refurbishment scheme, the entire building will be lovingly restored and a new education suite and offices will be created. In addition, the Hope Scott wing will be converted into 5-star visitor accommodation.

Main contractor for the project is M&J Ballantyne and the architect is LDN Architects.

In June 2011, the first sod on the site of the new Visitor Reception Building was cut by The Duke of Buccleuch. Through the creation of the new building, the Abbotsford Trust aims to encapsulate the story of Scott and articulate it in a way that will appeal to a modern audience. It is hoped that interest will be regenerated through the inventive presentation and inspiring educational programmes that have been specifically designed to establish the development as a place of enlightenment and entertainment.

A range of special packages will be provided for the guests, including guided walks, outdoor pursuits (including golfing and fishing breaks), spa treatments and exclusive packages for wedding groups.

During the project, several interesting features have been discovered. These include beautiful decorated floors, an ancient well and private gas works.

Matthew Withey, curator at Abbotsford, said:

“We always hoped that the restoration work at Abbotsford would yield some fascinating finds and we have not been disappointed.

“The treasures uncovered so far are a wonderful insight into the history of this amazing property and help tell us much about the way Scott lived and his love of craftsmanship and innovation. We’re greatly looking forward to seeing what other secrets will be uncovered as the project progresses.”

Grand Davidson, Contracts Manager for M & J Ballantyne Ltd, added:

“We’re delighted to be working on such an important regeneration project. We have a great deal of expertise gleaned from our work on numerous historic properties such as Floors Castle near Kelso, Dewars Lane Granary in Berwick upon Tweed and Ednam House Hotel in Kelso and are pleased that we can use our experience to help develop one of the most significant restoration and conservation projects the Borders and Scotland has seen in recent years.”

The Abbotsford Trust has raised approximately 75 percent of the £14.5 million needed to safeguard the long-term future of the development, and continues to work to raise the remaining £3.7 million.

If you would like to learn more about the project or make a donation, visit www.scottsabbotsford.co.uk

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