Yesterday we had a fantastic away day for the staff and trustees of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust at Abbotsford House.

Abbotsford House is a baronial mansion in the Gothic style situated in the Scottish Borders, near Melrose, on the south bank of the River Tweed. It is famously the creation and home of the Scottish novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott. Abbotsford is a Category A listed building.

Originally a farm holding of about 100 acres, the estate was purchased by Scott in 1811 who went on to create a small villa, Abbotsford, on a site named after the ford used by Abbots of Melrose Abbey to cross the river.

Scott then built additions to the house and made it into a mansion, building into the walls many sculptured stones from ruined castles and abbeys of Scotland. In it he gathered a large library, a collection of ancient furniture, arms and armour, and other relics and curiosities, especially connected with Scottish history.

The purpose of this away day was to understand how the team at Abbotsford manage the visitor attraction alongside commercial and event hire and the offer of a wide ranging learning programme. We were impressed by the wonderful tour of the building given by Sandra Mackenzie, the Heritage Engagement Manager. Following this, we were given the opportunity to ask Sandra, and her colleague Dizzy White, the Events and Marketing Manager, questions about how they balance both commercial and education activity within the building. It was very interesting to hear about the successes, challenges and lessons learned at Abbortsford, and how they intend to plan for the future.

In return, we hope to welcome both Sandra and Dizzy and the rest of the Abbotsford team to Riddle’s Court soon!

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