ABBOTSFORD is set to reopen to the public on July 4, following a multi-million pound regeneration.
The historic house had faced an uncertain future following the death in 2004 of Sir Walter Scott’s last descendant to live in the house, Dame Jean Maxwell Scott. Visitor numbers were declining, the fabric of the house required significant restoration and the visitor offer needed to be upgraded to a 21st century standard.
The Abbotsford Trust, a charitable body set up after Dame Jean’s death to protect and preserve Abbotsford and Scott’s legacy, has so far raised £12 million of the £14.5 million required to safeguard the historic property for future generations. This has enabled a major regeneration project to be carried out which will culminate in the reopening of property following almost two years of work.
A new visitor centre containing an exhibition charting Scott’s life and legacy has already been completed and has attracted more than 18,000 visitors since it opened in August last year.
The newly refurbished Abbotsford will include new visitor interpretation facilities and an education suite as well as luxury self-catering accommodation in the Hope Scott Wing of the house which will enable visitors to stay in the famous property which has previously played host to names such as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Washington Irving, Oscar Wilde and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Scott was both a renowned writer and collector and many of the priceless objects he accumulated are contained within the collections at Abbotsford and will go on display again in July. They include Scott’s library of more than 9,000 volumes, Roy Roy’s broadsword, dirk, dagger and gun, and a blotter owned by Napoleon.
Jason Dyer, chief executive, the Abbotsford Trust said: “Sir Walter Scott left a towering literary and cultural legacy that means his name is still well-known across the world. When our restoration work at Abbotsford is complete, we will have created a world-class attraction that will celebrate one of Scotland’s most important sons and encourage visitors from across the globe to visit the home of this much-loved literary superstar.”