Hazel McHaffie

Thomas Purdie


This one was definitely not to be missed! A visit to Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, in the year the house and devotees are celebrating 250 years.

It’s about fifty years ago since I stood outside this elegant building chatting to his great-great-great-granddaughters, (Patricia and Jean Maxwell-Scott) the last of the family to live in the house, listening to their forebears’ illustrious history – long before I became a novelist myself.

Though a lawyer by profession, Scott has been described as the first international literary superstar! And the facts about his career certainly bear that out. The range and success of his writings – as historic novelist, poet, playwright, historian, is mind blowing, so it was a special delight to stand beside the very desk and chair where he wrote, penning famous works, fighting off debts, being paid a fortune for each new novel.

We chose a commentary voiced by an actor pretending to be Scott and telling us with vivid immediacy about his life and decisions as we moved from room to room. We snuck into the tiny anteroom where he had private conversations. We heard his protégé and later best friend, Thomas Purdie, calling him outside for a breath of fresh air.

We stood on the very spot, looking at his favourite view down to the River Tweed, where he chose to lie as he breathed his last in September 1832. Such a peaceful place.

The house is beautifully preserved, much as it was in his day, and the formal grounds and woodland walks are pure delight at this time of year. Highly recommended.



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