Travel back in time with a picture-perfect stay in poet Sir Walter Scott's 'Romantic' manor home
Scottish manor Abbotsford House was the pride and joy of the author, and is currently the host of a 'lost' painting by J.M.W. Turner for a special exhibit
A leading figure of Romanticism and known for founding the historical novel genre, Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott was credited – and criticised – for popularising tartan, saving the Scottish banknote and 'rediscovering' the country's crown jewels in Edinburgh Castle. South of the border, artist J.M.W. Turner's lush landscapes and marine subjects, such as The Fighting Temeraire would define an era of art during a time of incredible change and industrialisation.
The two great creatives were contemporaries and often business partners – with Turner commissioned to illustrate Scott's poetry and prose as early as 1818, and most notably in a collection published after the author's death in 1832 – but often had a strained working relationship despite their similarities.
That fascinating legacy is being explored in an exhibition at Abbotsford House – a 19th century manor on the Scottish Borders built by and lived in by Scott. It is now part museum, dedicated to its owner's work and life, and part five-star hotel, where guests can enjoy a stay in living history, as well as see a rare Turner in the 'Painter and Poet' exhibit running until 30 November.
"In terms of collaboration and marketing coups, the partnership of Turner and Scott was revolutionary in the history of the book," said Abbotsford Trust's Kirsty Archer-Thompson. "But on a human level, their relationship was more interesting still, plagued by the suspicion, anxiety and miscommunication between two men desperate to make their mark and cement their legacy." >>
The 'Lost Turner' watercolour was purchased for £100 by a private collector who has loaned it to the Trust for the Turner and Scott: The Painter and The Poet exhibition – it is now thought to be worth £200,000. But the painting is not the only item of note in the literary house, described by Scott as his 'flibbertigibbet', which was reopened in 2013 after a £12m refurbishment. Meticulously retaining its original 1831 style, Abbotsford features Scott's original study, library, Chinese drawing room, armoury and dining room.
The Hope Scott Wing is in use as a five-star luxury home away from home boasting seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, billiard room and an optional chef and butler service – as well as freedom of access to the main museum spaces within the house during its open months from March to November. Country pursuits including golf, shooting and picturesque walks can all be arrange and, in a nod to more contemporary wellness, a fully equipped modern spa is also on site.
Among Scott's possessions still at the location, guests can peruse his collection of books, paintings, engravings and armour – and historical treasures including Rob Roy's gun, Montrose's sword and an urn presented to him by his contemporary Lord Byron.