The NSW suburb of Abbotsford was originally part of Five Dock farm and takes its name from our own Abbotsford House. Our Abbotsford House was built in 1878 by Sir Arthur Renwick (1837-1908), a doctor, politician and philanthropist.
Sir Arthur was born in Glasgow, and named his mansion after Abbotsford House on the banks of the River Tweed near the town of Melrose in the picturesque Borders region of Scotland. The Scottish mansion was built in 1824 by his favourite author, Sir Walter Scott.
Sir Walter, born in Edinburgh in 1771, had already achieved great literary success and had “married well” enabling him to purchase the 110 acre farm on the River Tweed.
The farm was originally called “Cartleyhole” however Scott changed its name to Abbotsford, as the land on which the farm stood had belonged to the Monks from nearby Melrose Abbey, and the ford used by them to cross the River Tweed was just below the house.
Sir Walter Scott died in 1832 and his family opened Abbotsford House to the public. Visitors could see Scott’s study, library, drawing room, armoury and the dining room. Scott was an avid collector of arms, including Rob Roy’s gun, Montrose’s sword and items from the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815.
Melrose Abbey near the River Tweed was founded in 1136 by Cistercian Monks from Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire at the request of King David I.
In 1322, the abbey and much of the town were destroyed by the English army of Edward II. It was subsequently rebuilt with the generous assistance of King “Robert the Bruce”. The abbey was again destroyed by the army of Richard II in 1385 and yet again under the rule of Henry VIII in 1544. The Monks of Melrose Abbey subsequently embraced the reformation, and the last resident Monk died there in 1590.
The history of Melrose Abbey and Scotland’s Abbotsford House provide an interesting insight into the naming of our own heritage house, our suburb and Melrose Crescent which runs behind Alexander and Elizabeth buildings.
Another excerpt from Abbotsford Cove Community Centre website, written by Don Coulter. Published with permission