The Abbotsford - A history
The Abbotsford is Edinburgh’s best preserved elaborately designed and ornamented bar to have survived from the ‘Golden Age’ of Scottish pub design.
The Abbotsford was named after Scottish historical novelist Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion in Roxburghshire. Originally the Abbotsford Arms (1887) stood on the site. In 1902 the original bar was demolished and Jenner’s & Co who were making additions to their store commissioned famed Pub & Brewery architect P.L. Henderson to design the new Abbotsford Bar.
This outstanding example of Edwardian Pub Design features a Classic Island Bar carved from Spanish Mahogany and elegant Jacobean Ceiling. Pubs like this were built during the height of the temperance movement: their opulent character was in marked contrast to the dark and dingy bars of Edinburgh past where the ceilings were often not beyond the reach of a mans arm. Without the pressure of the ‘anti‑drink lobby’ it seems probable that publicans would not have spent the vast sums of money needed to build this pub which remains today one of the few elaborately designed and ornamented bars to have survived from the ‘Golden Age’ of Scottish Pub Design.
Other famous Edinburgh pubs designed by P. L. Henderson include Deacon Brodies (1894), Leslies Bar (1896), The Central Bar (1899), and The Mitre (1901). By far the most impeccably preserved is The Abbotsford, which is run by the family company D.M. Stewart Ltd, whose flagship bar is the nearby Guildford Arms (Robert Macfarlane Cameron 1896).
In the early part of the last century the Abbotsford was well known by Music Hall Artistes who performed at the Empire, Lyceum and Royal theatres. In the 1950’s and 60’s the bar became a favourite haunt of ‘Rose St Poets’ Hugh Macdiarmid, Sorley McLean and Sydney Goodsir Smith. In more recent times the pub has played host to the likes of comedians Billy Connelly and Robbie Coltrane, political figures such as Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown and the authors Ian Rankin and the greatly missed Iain Banks.
D.M. Stewart Ltd took over the Abbotsford in 2006 from Colin Grant the previous Landlord. Colin’s family had run the bar since 1940 when his Grandmother Mrs Antonia Grant acquired the Lease. The Grant family built up an excellent reputation for quality and service.
D.M. Stewart Ltd is a family company that has owned pubs in Edinburgh for over 100 years and currently operate the nearby Guildford Arms, Cumberland Bar and Canons’ Gait. Four generations of the Stewart family have been involved in the drinks industry.
The Abbotsford Bar and Restaurant offer the best in Scottish gastro pub dining. Dine in Edinburgh’s finest traditional bar or in our elegant restaurant ‘Above’. Enjoy the best Scottish produce whether you are looking for great Pub Classics or a La Carte Specials.
For Real Ale fans we have adopted a Guest Ale Programme that is unique in Edinburgh; all 6 traditional Scottish Tall Founts continuously rotate Guest Ales for optimum variety allowing The Abbotsford and nearby Guildford Arms to always offer different ales. Ale choice favours Scottish Independent breweries.
We hope that The Abbotsford exceeds your expectations of friendly professional service and that you enjoy our new Ales, Wine and Dining Experience.