Abottsford, Melrose, Roxburghshire


The Library, Abbotsford
c.1920
Publisher: W. Ritchie & Sons (“Reliable series”), 1902-28

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Abbotsford is a historic country house in the Scottish Borders, near Galashiels, on the south bank of the River Tweed. Now open to the public, it was built as the residence of historical novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott between 1817 and 1825. . . . The estate and its neo-Medieval features nod towards Scott’s desire for a historical feel, but the writer ensured that the house would provide all the comforts of modern living. As a result, Scott used the space as a proving-ground for new technologies. The house was outfitted with early gas lighting and pneumatic bells connecting residents with servants elsewhere in the house.
Wikipedia.

The library at Abbotsford is entirely the creation of Scott: it begins with the chapbooks he collected as a child and continues through the small volumes of poetry he annotated as a schoolboy.
Abbotsford: the home of Sir Walter Scott

From this you pass into the largest of all the apartments, the library, which I really must say, is really a noble room. It is an oblong of some fifty feet, by thirty, with a projection in the centre, opposite the fireplace, terminating in a grand bow window, fitted up with books also, and, in fact, constituting a sort of chapel to the church. The roof is of carved oak again a very rich pattern I believe chiefly a la Roslin; and the bookcases, which are also of richly carved oak, reach high up the walls all round. The collection amounts, in this room, to some fifteen or twenty thousand volumes, arranged according to their subjects : British history and antiquities, filling the whole of the chief wall ; English poetry and drama, classics and miscellanies, one end : foreign literature, chiefly French and German, the other. The cases on the side opposite the fire are wired and locked, as containing articles very precious and very portable. One consists entirely of Books and MSS. relating to the insurrections of 1715 and 1745; another (within the recess of the bow window), of treatises de re magice, both of these being (I am told, and can well believe) in their several ways, collections of the rarest curiosity. My cicerone pointed out, in one corner, a magnificent set of Mountfaucon, ten volumes folio, bound in the richest manner in scarlet, and stamped with the royal arms, the gift of his present Majesty.

There are few living authors of whose works presentation copies are not to be found here. My friend showed me inscriptions of that sort in, I believe, every European dialect extant. The books are all in prime condition, and bindings that would satisfy Mr. Dibdin. The only picture is Sir Walter’s eldest son, in hussar uniform, and holding his horse, by Allan of Edinburgh, a noble portrait, over the fireplace ; and the only bust is that of Shakespeare, from the Avon monument, in a small niche, in the centre of the east side. On a rich stand of porphyry, in one corner, reposes a tall silver urn, filled with bones from the Piraeus, and bearing the inscription, “Given by George Gordon, Lord Byron, to Sir Walter Scott, Bart.” It contained the letter which accompanied the gift, till lately — it has disappeared, no one guesses who look it ; but, whoever he was, as my guide observed, he must have been a thief for thieving’s sake truly, as he durst no more exhibit his autograph, than tip himself a bare bodkin ! Sad, infamous tourist, indeed ! Although I saw abundance of comfortable looking desks and arm chairs, yet this room seemed rather too large and fine for work and I found accordingly, after passing a double pair of doors, that there was a sanctum within and beyond this library. And here you may believe, was not to me the least interesting, though by no means the most splendid, part of the suit.
Sydney Gazette, 16 May 1829


The Study, Abbotsford

The Study was designed as Scott’s private sanctum and was the last room to be completed at Abbotsford in 1824.
Abbotsford: the home of Sir Walter Scott

ABBOTSFORD
AND SIR WALTER SCOTT’S STUDY.

The lion’s own den proper, then, is a room of about five-and-twenty feet square by twenty feet high, containing of what is called furniture nothing but a small writing-table in the centre, a plain arm chair covered with black leather–a very comfortable one though, for I tried it.–and a single chair besides, plain symptoms that this is no place for company. On either side of the fire-place their are shelves filled with duodecimos and books of reference, chiefly, of course, folios ; but except these there are no books save the contents of a light gallery which runs round three sides of the room, and is reached by a hanging stair of carved oak in one corner. You have been both at the Elisée Bourbon and Mulmaison, and remember the library at one or other of those places, I forget which ; this gallery is much in the same style. There are only two portraits, an original of the beautiful and melancholy head of Claverhouse, and a small full length of Rob Roy. Various little antique cabinets stand round about, each having a bust on it : Stothard’s Canterbury Pilgrims are on the mantlepiece; and in one corner, I saw a collection of really useful weapons, those of the forest craft, to wit–axes and bills and so forth of every calibre. There is only one window pierced in a very thick wall, so that the place is rather sombre ; the light tracery work of the gallery over-head, harmonizes with the books well. It is a very comfortable looking room, and very unlike any other I was in. I should not forget some Highland clamorers, cluttered round a target over the Canterbury people, nor a writing-box of carved wood, lined with crimson velvet, and furnished with silver plate of right venerable aspect, which looked as if it might be the implement of old Chaucer himself, but which from the arms on the lid must have belonged to some Indian Prince of the day of Leo the magnificent at the furthest.
Sydney Gazette, 16 May 1829


Ground Plan of House (from Wikimedia Commons.)

John Knox’s House, Edinburgh


John Knox’s House, Nether Bow, Edinburgh
c.1910
Publisher: Stewart & Woolf, London

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John Knox House, popularly known as “John Knox’s House”, is an historic house in Edinburgh, Scotland, reputed to have been owned and lived in by Protestant reformer John Knox during the 16th century. Although his name became associated with the house, he appears to have lived in Warriston Close where a plaque indicates the approximate site of his actual residence. The house itself was built from 1490 onwards, featuring a fine wooden gallery and hand-painted ceiling.  .  . . The visitor’s pamphlet states that the house “was Knox’s home only for a few months during the siege of Edinburgh Castle, but it is believed that he died here.” It appears to have become widely accepted as “John Knox’s House” from the mid-19th century onwards after Victorian writers like Robert Chambers and Sir Daniel Wilson had repeated the popular tradition, first recorded c.1800, of attaching Knox’s name to it. The house looked old enough to fit the description, but no research was able to establish the rights or wrongs of the claim.
Wikipedia.


Audience Room, John Knox’s House, Edinburgh
c.1910
Publisher: William J Hay, Edinburgh


The Study, John Knox’s House, Edinburgh
c.1902
Publisher: William J Hay, Edinburgh