Leave it to a writer to refer to his home as “the Delilah of his imagination, his conundrum castle and a flibbertigibbet of a house.” Known to the rest of the world as Abbotsford House, this was the residence of Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832), the Scottish poet, novelist, biographer and historian who is widely considered to be the inventor of the historical novel.
Scott purchased his property on the River Tweed in 1811, when it was just a small farm, and spent nearly a decade expanding and perfecting his Scottish Baronial style mansion made of stone, lime and even sculptured rocks from ruined castles and abbeys. “Look back, and smile on perils past,” wrote Scott.
Scott’s descendants continued to live in Abbotsford until 2004, and the property is now under the care of The Abbotsford Trust. The castle was recently refurbished and a visitor center was added in 2012. Designed by LDN Architects and Joelle Reid Interiors, the new center is furnished with Globus Chairs and Onda Stools by Jesús Gasca for Stua.
Built into a hillside to maximize natural insulation and reduce fuel usage, the new building has been honored with several awards for environmental sustainability. Its flat roof is finished with a sedum blanket to partly “recover” the natural ground lost due to its construction, and rainwater is captured in a reclamation tank and reused within the building.
“Scott was a lover of the latest technology of his time, having installed at Abbotsford some of the first gas lighting in any home in Scotland,” says Jason Dyer of The Abbotsford Trust. “We’re confident that he would have appreciated some of the latest techniques used at the visitor center to make it as environmentally sustainable as possible.”
“And now we reach the favorite glade,
Paled in by copsewood, cliff, and stone,
Where, never harsher sounds invade,
To break affection’s whispering tone,
Than the deep breeze that waves the shade
Than the small brooklet’s feeble moan.”
–from The Bridal of Triermain by Walter Scott