Paxton House stands proudly at Paxton in the Scottish Borders, just a short distance from English soil. It is said to be one of the finest examples of neo-Palladian architecture in Scotland.
Paxton House was designed and built by architect John Adam and his brother James between 1758 and 1763 for Patrick Home, Laird of Wedderburn and his intended bride, Sophie de Brandt, Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth Christina of Prussia. Sadly, Sophie never came to Paxton, it is said that the families thwarted their marriage attempt but Sophie did give Patrick her Gloves which are still on display in the Morning Room. Patrick occupied the house for a while, before selling it to relatives.
As well as being known for its fine architecture Paxton House has a foremost collection of Chippendale Furniture and William Trotter furniture. It also has a picture gallery which is the largest private art gallery of any country house in Scotland, It also has beautiful grounds, all of these factors making it a special place.
Paxton House opens in the Spring, this year it opened on 29th March and will close for the Winter on 2nd November. The opening times for the house are 11-5 and for the grounds 10am to sunset. Admission fees to the house are £7.60 Adults, Concessions £7, under 16's go free. Entrance to the house is by tour only, tours run from 11 am to 3.30pm and last about an hour. Tours can be booked in advance by telephone or you can do as we did and just turn up on the day. There is a separate Admission fee to the grounds. If you wish to visit the grounds a Ground Pass costs £4 for adults/concessions, under 16's admitted for free. Once a ground pass is purchased, the grounds can be visited as many times as you wish during the year at no extra charge.
There is a free car park with designated disabled car parking opposite Reception.
The Reception area leads on to the Gift Shop, where we spent time before our tour. The tour took us on a journey through all the living areas of the house which contained a huge collection of fascinating costumes, books, pictures and of course the beautiful furniture.
There are a lot of stairs involved in the tour so for the less mobile, such as myself it is worth knowing that there is a lift just off the Reception Area which will take you to the first floor. This provides only partial access to the house for the less mobile, as the bedrooms and nursery are on a higher floor. There was some seating provided throughout the tour which I was grateful for, but in some rooms I found it hard to recognise which seating I was allowed to sit on and which I was not supposed to sit on. There were notices saying not to sit on some chairs but nothing to indicate which chairs visitors could sit on. Fortunately my Guide came to the rescue in some rooms, showing me where I could sit.
Paxton House is absolutely full of magnificent furniture but the areas I enjoyed most were the Library – which housed an amazing collection of books belonging to Patrick Home and the Picture Gallery. We visited the Picture Gallery towards the end of the tour and had extra time to sit and enjoy the beautiful pictures. The Picture Gallery has some outstanding paintings in its collection of seventy, late 18th and early 19th century pictures.
After our house tour we decided to visit The Stables Tearoom for tea and biscuits. A variety of snacks and meals are available, Soup £3.90, Ploughmans Lunch £5.50 and Scottish Salmon with Cream cheese and trimmings £6.50.
The very picturesque grounds were landscaped in the 18th century by architect Robert Robinson. They provide a variety of riverside and woodland walks. Some of the grounds are quite steep, especially down to the river area, therefore those with reduced mobility or wheelchair users may have only partial access to all of the grounds.
The grounds are home to a lot of wildlife, birdwatchers are welcome to use the bird hides. Fishing has always been part of life on the River Tweed and visitors can visit the original boathouse which was restored in 1997 from a Victorian plan and which is now used as a fishing museum.
Paxton House is situated just 3-4 miles west of the border town of Berwick Upon Tweed. It is signposted 3 miles from the A1 bypass on the B6461 and the junction of the A697 with the B6461. Berwick Upon Tweed Rail station is approximately 3 miles away. A bus service from Golden Square, Berwick Upon Tweed runs by Paxton House, the bus service being the number 32 to Hutton.
I provide a summary of accessibility for reduced mobility visitors or wheelchair users:
Disabled Car Parking, Concessions Level access to café, gift shop Reception. Lift to first floor (allowing partial access to the house tour) Some seating throughout the house tour. WC suitable for wheelchair users. Partial Access to the grounds Seating within the grounds. Wheelchair hire – book in advance by telephoning the venue. Guide Dogs/Assistance Dogs welcome.
The beautiful countryside and coastline of the Scottish Borders and Northumberland are close by. The town of Berwick Upon Tweed with its shops, restaurants, cafes and accommodation is just a short distance away.