Local MSP highlights importance of region's historic buildings

Published: 25 Feb 2013 07:300 comments

THE importance of historic buildings in the Borders for tourism and economic wellbeing was highlighted in Parliament this week by Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame.

Local MSP Christine Grahame at Melrose Abbey.

Ms Grahame spoke in a debate which was to recognise the vital role that historic houses and buildings play in preserving Scotland's rich history. Ms Grahame spoke about Melrose Abbey and Abbotsford House in particular, which are both in her constituency.

She said: "Buildings are by people and for people. Melrose Abbey tells many stories, including that of Robert the Bruce, whose connection with it goes back to 1326 and one of those rebuilding programmes, courtesy of the English. On his death, Robert the Bruce's heart was sent on a crusade to the holy land with Sir James Douglas.

"When Sir James was confronted by a large array of Moors, he cast Bruce's heart before him with the cry, "Lead on brave heart". That expression is still occasionally used nowadays, sometimes by me. Later, Bruce's heart was retrieved from the battlefield, and it is interred at Melrose Abbey."

Ms Grahame also told Parliament about the refurbishment of Abbotsford House and the Trust's efforts to ensure Sir Walter Scott's home continues to be part of the Borders' rich history.

She added: "I first saw Abbotsford on a frosty January day when the grounds, trimmed hedges and turrets sparkled in the sunshine, and I loved it from that moment. Inside the armoury hallway and up near the rafters are the clan crests. Believe it or not, next to the Scott crest was that of Grahame, with an "e"-the affinity was complete.

"The Abbotsford Trust has taken over responsibility for the house, with lottery and Scottish Government funding to restore it. I say to the campaigners in the public gallery that it is a long haul but that they can get there, as has been done with Abbotsford house. In fact, it has been refurbished and will reopen on 4 July-if the queen is invited, so am I.

"I have talked about two wonderful historic buildings with stories to tell. When the Borders railway reopens, people will travel from Waverley to Abbotsford at Tweedbank-how appropriate."

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