After the death of Sir Walter Scott in 1832, the house and estate initially passed to the writer’s eldest son, and then in 1847, to his only surviving grandson by Scott’s eldest daughter Sophia Scott and her husband John Gibson Lockhart. Walter Scott Lockhart was a military man often away on active service and he chose to lease Abbotsford to his sister Charlotte and her new husband, James Robert Hope, in 1848. After the death of her brother in 1853, Charlotte, the last surviving direct descendent of Sir Walter Scott, inherited Abbotsford and the ‘’Hope Scotts’’ made it their principal home.
Charlotte Hope Scott was a woman of grace and depth who resembled her grandfather physically in her highly animated and expressive face and in her deep love of literature. A beautiful portrait of her can be seen in the hallway outside the Hope Scott Master bedroom today.
The Hope Scotts had set about some improvements on the estate whilst leasing the property from Walter Scott Lockhart. A visitor arriving in the winter of 1851, described witnessing works to open up the landscape between the house and the river, clearing the trees and shrubbery in preparation for the landscaped terraces that still survive today.
Following the death of Walter Lockhart Scott, the architect William Burn was commissioned to design a sympathetic extension to the main house that would offer the family a greater degree of privacy and allow the older portion of the house to remain largely untouched. At that time Abbotsford was welcoming over 4,000 visitors a year and the family needed a better solution to the domestic challenges of living in such a beloved and visited place.
The new wing was structured around an internal square courtyard over three primary floors and offered significant new floor space for the family. The Catholic Chapel, just beyond the accommodation wing, was originally designed as James Hope Scott’s Library before the family decided on repurposing the space. The family also absorbed the main stairway of Scott’s original house into this domestic area of the building, along with two of the original bedroom suites, now known as the Maxwell Scott and Lady Scott bedrooms. The Maxwell Scott suite is actually one of the oldest interiors remaining on the Abbotsford site.
Outside the Wing, the Hope Scotts created a steep embankment between the house and the road for greater privacy and made various changes to the South Court garden planting schemes. They also altered the visitor routes on site, creating the sunken passageway that runs between the garden rooms at a basement level.
The Hope Scott Wing became the seasonal home of the family after the house passed to Charlotte’s daughter, Mary Monica Maxwell Scott. It wasn’t until 1928 that Abbotsford and the Hope Scott Wing became the principal family home once again for Major General Walter Maxwell Scott and his daughters, Jean and Patricia.
Over the years the Wing has hosted many famous faces, from Saint John Henry Newman to Queen Victoria, and today, it retains that spirit of easy hospitality and warmth that Dame Jean and Patricia Maxwell Scott were famed for as they poured their energy into taking care of Abbotsford between 1954-2004. Every room is lovingly dressed with their family heirlooms and antiques long associated with Abbotsford, delicately blended with all the modern comforts of five-star luxury. Over 150 years on, the Hope Scott Wing still offers that same sense of sanctuary, tranquillity and easy conviviality to all who come and stay.