Abbotsford glass door plan to protect Scott artefacts

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ABBOTSFORD House haslaunched a fresh planning application for a project to save a large number of Walter Scott’s historical artefacts.

In an amendment to a previously passed planning bid submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC), the Abbotsford Trust wishes to install a glass door at its main entrance as part of the £10 million refurbishment project.

They say it is required to reduce humidity in the building so that important documents and items belonging to the novelist – who died 180 years ago – do not quickly deteriorate.

A statement from the Abbotsford Trust to SBC said: “This entrance consists of a large wooden door that opens directly on to the entrance hall, one of the most significant rooms of the house where a large quantity of historical artefacts, original to Sir Walter Scott, are on open display.

“Many of these items are very fragile due to their age and the nature of the material they are constructed from.

“The long-term stability of these items is directly affected by their surrounding environment and rapid fluctuations in humidity and temperature or prolonged exposure at levels that are too high or low will cause adverse effects on their condition and will rapidly accelerate their deterioration.”

The statement added that on busy days at the renovated Abbotsford House, which will include tourist accommodation as well as an adjacent visitor centre, the door would be opened and closed regularly.

“As a result it will be very difficult to control the environment within the entrance hall and the condition of the artefacts will be put at risk,” added the trust, which needs to raise a further £3.7m to safeguard the house’s long-term future.

“It is proposed that in order to bring greater stability to the environment in this room, a glass door should be added to the stone porch to create an enclosed space in front of the main door.

“This will provide a buffer between external and interior environmental conditions.”

The statement also claims the alterations would create an “ideal” space to welcome visitors entering the house.

Kelso building company M&J Ballantyne is currently carrying out the conservation and refurbishment of the property, and has discovered ornate floors, an ancient well and part of Abbotsford’s private gas works so far.

The main house at Abbotsford is due to reopen next year, while the new visitor centre is scheduled to open this summer.

A planning decision by SBC is due in April.