Clockwise: Newbattle Abbey from above; the crypt; the font from where Mary Queen of Scots was possibly baptised; a threatening sky with sundial in foreground; the family grave site where Lord Robert Kerr is buried; the formal garden home to the wedding present sundials. Newbattle was the home of Lord Robert Kerr who bought the concerto manuscript from Vivaldi. The Kerr family donated it to the country and it is now college for return to study students.
The old sycamore tree greeted Robert as his coach crossed the bridge. It had stood in the grounds of Newbattle Abbey for nearly three hundred years. Now its bare branches stretched against the frosty sky like outstretched fingers, knotted and worn by honest toil. The river, still high after heavy winter falls, raced under the bridge, eager to be somewhere else. The home field was a white and green carpet of early snowdrops. From this distance the Abbey, too, looked unaltered, but Robert had a sense, as his carriage passed the stately gates, that change awaited him. He passed the family graveyard and a shiver ran through him, wondering who next would be buried there. He looked up to the window where his mother would be watching for him and waved. She will know my thoughts about having to return. But where will her sympathies lie, he wondered.