Abbotsford - Melrose | Historic Houses | Britain's Finest
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Historic House

Abbotsford is the remarkable home of Sir Walter Scott where he turned into the greatest selling author of his day and the style for Scots Baronial architecture began.

Join Abbotsford, along with more than 50+ partner organisations, in celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Sir Walter Scott with an international programme of events throughout 2021 and 2022. 

Where is Abbotsford located?

Abbotsford is situated in the heart of the Scottish Borders on the banks of the River Tweed. Secluded amongst the rolling hills and woodland areas, Abbotsford estate is peaceful and tranquil. Just a ten-minute drive away, visitors can also explore the quaint market towns of Melrose and Galashiels, or visit other neighbouring Border towns such as Kelso, Jedburgh, Selkirk and Hawick, which are all within a thirty-minute drive from the estate. Here, they can learn more about the local history through visiting awe-inspiring castles and captivating abbeys.

Visitors to Scotland’s capital can also enjoy a day trip to Abbotsford. Abbotsford is only an hour drive or train ride away from Edinburgh City Centre. Visitors can embark on the train at Waverley Station (named after Scott’s novel of the same name) and disembark at Tweedbank Train station where they can walk to Abbotsford (1.6 miles) or utilise Abbotsford’s free minibus service, run by dedicated volunteers.

What is the history of Abbotsford to the present day?

In 1811, Sir Walter Scott bough this own ‘mountain farm, as he described it, ‘on a bare haugh bleak bank by the side of the Tweed’. It was called Newarthhaugh on the deeds but was Cartleyhole to local people. He immediately renamed it Abbotsford, after the ford across the Tweed below the house used in former times by the monks of Melrose Abbey.

His first priority was not to enlarge the house, but to acquire more land from his neighbours. However, as money continued to pour in from his writing, the old farmhouse was demolished to make room for a large rectangular building, housing an entrance hall, a new study, a library and a drawing room. Several professional architects, dilettante designers and friends contributed ideas and sketches to create what is see today.

Shortly after Scott’s death in 1832, Scott’s family opened the estate to the public and welcomed visitors from all over the world. In 1853, the granddaughter and last surviving direct descendent of Scott, Charlotte Hope Scott, inherited Abbotsford and with her husband, James, made it their principal home.

However, at the time Abbotsford was welcoming over 4,000 visitors a year and the family needed a better solution to the domestic challenges of living in such a beloved and visited place. The architect William Burn was commissioned to design a sympathetic extension to the main house that would offer a greater degree of privacy and allow the older portion of the house to remain largely untouched. And thus, the West Wing was created. Scott’s descendants continued to live in the Wing until 2004, when Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott, Scott’s great-great-great granddaughter and last descent to live at Abbotsford, sadly passed away.

In 2007, Abbotsford came under the care of The Abbotsford Trust – a new charitable trust created to protect, preserve, and promote the life and works of Sir Walter Scott.

With help from statutory bodies, such as The Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, over £12 million was raised for the capital project which allowed Abbotsford Trust to restore and conserve the house and its collection of 9,000 books and 4,000 objects, all of which were collected by Scott.

Due to the work of The Abbotsford Trust, nearly 200 years after Scott’s death, Abbotsford continues to welcome visitors from all over the world, and the West Wing, currently known as the Hope Scott Wing, is a now a five-star luxury accommodation for groups of up to 16 people on a self-catering basis.

What is there to see and do at Abbotsford?

 Wander through Scott’s study, where his books changed the world, marvel at his magnificent library with its richly carved ceiling, and admire his eclectic and world-class collection of arms, armour and curiosities, aided by a free audio tour.

Learn about Scott's life in the free exhibition, browse Abbotsford’s gift shop, enjoy seasonal food in Ochiltree’s café or simply relax in Scott’s beautiful Regency Walled Gardens and tranquil woodlands.

Children can also have fun in the Family Play Trail, which includes a wooden fortress with a seven-metre pyramid tower, a mini suspension bridge and a seven-metre tunnel slide.

Top facilities

Disabled Access

Parking Available

Guided Tours

Facilities & information


19th century buildings

Guided tours

Gift shop

Information provided

Learning facilities


Children's play area

Woodland walks

Audio guide

Free car parking (on site)




Disabled Access

Guided Tours

Parking Available




Picnic area

Extra info

Nearest Airport: Edinburgh Airport

Nearest Airport Time: 1 hours 5 minutes

Nearest Airport Distance (in miles): 45

Nearest Train Station: Tweedbank

Nearest Railway Time: 4 minutes

Amex: Yes

Delta: Yes

Mastercard: Yes

MaestroSwitch: Yes

Visa: Yes

Arrival information and directions

Address: Melrose, Scottish Borders, MelroseTD6 9BQ, United Kingdom

Nearest Airport: Edinburgh Airport (45 miles away)

Nearest Train station: Tweedback (1.6 miles away)

Parking available on site.

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