Great Scott relics on show

JOANNA COOK (RIGHT), CONSERVATOR AT SIR WALTER SCOTT'S ABBOTSFORD HOME IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS REINSTATES A PIECE OF ARMOUR IN THE ENTRANCE HALL OF THE HISTORIC HOUSE WITH THE HELP OF CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER ALAN HERD AS ABBOTSFORD PREPARES TO REOPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON 4 JULY FOLLOWING A MULTI-MILLION POUND RESTORATION.
JOANNA COOK (RIGHT), CONSERVATOR AT SIR WALTER SCOTT'S ABBOTSFORD HOME IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS REINSTATES A PIECE OF ARMOUR IN THE ENTRANCE HALL OF THE HISTORIC HOUSE WITH THE HELP OF CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER ALAN HERD AS ABBOTSFORD PREPARES TO REOPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON 4 JULY FOLLOWING A MULTI-MILLION POUND RESTORATION.

More than 13,000 treasures collected by Ivanhoe novelist Sir Walter Scott are set to go on show at his historic family home after a major refurbishment.

Sir Walter, whose historical classic was based on Conisbrough Castle and whose legacy lives on in the South Yorkshire area, will be the focus of the multi-million revamp of Abbotsford House in the Scottish Borders.

Thousands of objects belonging to the author are now being moved back into the grand house by the Abbotsford Trust, as it prepares to re-open it to the public on July 4.

In addition to penning globally famous works such as Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and Waverley, Scott was also a renowned collector and items gathered by him include Rob Roy’s dirk, dagger, gun and broadsword, a hunting knife belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie, and a lock of Napoleon’s hair.

All these and scores of other objects were packed away and put into secure storage two years ago, while much-needed restoration work was carried out to the fabric of the building.

The Abbotsford collections also include around 9,000 volumes from the author’s library and around 400 items of arms and armoury, which are currently being re-hung in the property.

Scott’s writing desk and chair, a silver urn gifted to Scott by Lord Byron, and paintings by artists including JMW Turner, Henry Raeburn and Edwin Landseer are also due to be returned to the house in the coming weeks.

Trust chief executive Jason Dyer said the transformation of the unique property into a world-class visitor attraction has been a huge undertaking.

“But it is extremely rewarding to finally see the collections being returned to their Abbotsford home as restoration work nears completion,” he said.

“It’s a process that will take many weeks and, once complete, will help us to tell Sir Walter Scott’s fascinating story to visitors from across the world.”

Trust conservator Joanna Cook says the work of replacing the items in the house will last well into next month.

“It’s a huge job. There are 400 pieces of armour and arms alone, plus 9,000 books from the library,” said Ms Cook, whose team of volunteer helpers have been busily reassembling the suits of armour that grace the entrance hall of Abbotsord.

Sir Walter, who died in 1832, wrote Ivanhoe in 1819. Set in 12th century England, the book is centred on ‘Coningsburgh’, based on Conisbrough Castle,. Iit is widely believed that the author got the idea for the story while staying in the Doncaster area.

Conisbrough is so dedicated to the story of Ivanhoe that streets, schools, and public buildings are named after characters from the book.