Abbotsford Trust

Abbotsford Trust

At a glance


  • Gardens and parks
  • Local / community
  • Museums / heritage

Other details

Geographical remit: 


The Abbotsford Trust is a registered Scottish charity set up in 2007 in succession to the Executors of Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott’s estate. The Abbotsford Trust owns the heritage (Abbotsford House, 100 acres of garden and grounds and the Gardeners Cottage and Lodge) as well as the house contents, some of which are co-owned with the Faculty of Advocates under the Faculty of Advocates Abbotsford Collections Trust.


The objects of the charity are:

  • To advance the arts culture and heritage by the acquisition, preservation, protection and improvement of the buildings, land and policies of Abbotsford, together with its contents and any amenity or other land associated with Abbotsford or with Sir Walter Scott and his family or with the works of Sir Walter Scott, together with any moveables of family literary, historic or cultural significance, all for the benefit and enjoyment of the public; and


  • To advance the education of the public in relation to the arts and literature and Scottish culture, and particularly the life and works and family of Sir Walter Scott and the history of Abbotsford.


Abbotsford welcomes some 70,000 visitors a year and is a leading tourist attraction in the Scottish Borders. We employ 15.6 FTE staff and have 40 volunteers assisting with everything from house guiding, customer service, to gardening. Trustees give their time as volunteers.


The strategies employed to achieve the charity’s objectives are to open Abbotsford from 1st March to 30th November every year as a minimum, 7 days a week, and to allow visits by appointment for the rest of the year, so that Abbotsford’s unique architecture and contents as well as the garden and grounds, almost all the creation of Sir Walter Scott himself and much of it as it was when he died in 1832, is available for appreciation and learning to as many people as possible. 

In addition, the principal factor underlying all the trustees’ work is to increase visitor numbers and educational opportunities for all by improving visitor facilities and interpretation of Scott’s life and work, to secure the fabric of the house and gardens and to improve the financial viability of the Abbotsford Trust so that it can survive and prosper to the benefit of all for the long term. To this end a long term plan has been formulated whose sole aim is to enhance the opportunity for delivery of the charity’s objectives as laid out above.

The Trust undertook a programme to reinvigorate and redevelop Abbotsford, commencing in June 2011 following a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund Main Grants programme. The Trustees consider there to be clear potential for a revival of interest in Scott, the cornerstone of Scotland’s classical literary triumvirate that includes Burns and Stevenson, and whose importance to world literature has been compared with Hardy, Austen and Wordsworth. He remains too the undisputed “Father of Scotland”. 

In order to ensure the long-term future of Abbotsford, the house itself must play a fundamental role in returning to the popular agenda and schools curricula the works of Scott and the stories from Scots lore and folk traditions he so faithfully collected and championed. Scotland at the beginning of the 21st century is undergoing massive changes – changes compared by some to those characteristic of the Scottish Enlightenment in the latter part of which Scott was a leading figure. It is arguably, therefore, a thoroughly appropriate time for Scott’s heritage to be returned to the mainstream.

As a part of this, Abbotsford could become again a literary pilgrimage centre, a physical focus for cultural activity and industry, perhaps even a showcase for the exploration of belonging, nationhood and humanity that were fundamental to both Scott’s literary and worldly endeavours.

Since the opening of the new Visitor Centre in 2012, and the reopening of the House in 2013, the Trust has focussed on welcoming visitors to the House, Gardens, Grounds and to the Visitor Centre where a free exhibition is open throughout the year. In partnership with the Faculty of Advocates, Scott's rare and exceptionally important library is carefully conserved, but also made available for public viewing, for exhibitions, and for expert access. Community and educational groups are welcomed throughout the year, and active partnerships are in place across the region. Volunteers make an active contribution to visitor access, interpretation and operations.

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