Socialist gives his home to the nation: Paxton House, on the Tweed, opens to the public

BEING landed with the gentry can be a disadvantage, particularly if your political beliefs are at the opposite end of the park.

John Home Robertson's family home is surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens, park and woodlands north of the river Tweed. But Mr Home Robertson is also a committed socialist and Labour MP for East Lothian. This weekend should help put the popular image of a landed gentleman behind him for good.

Mr Home Robertson has given Paxton House, which lies a few miles west of Berwick-upon-Tweed, to the nation, with its gardens. He, his wife Catherine and their two sons, Alexander and Patrick, will be accommodated in a converted garage and garden store. Should the family ever want to sell the house, they will only be entitled to a nominal pounds 1.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund, aware of the history of the house and its collection of Chippendale furniture, gave some pounds 2m for renovation of the main house and the spectacular picture gallery, which is located in a separate building. This weekend, the house and gallery will be on view to the public, and they will remain open daily until October.

The pounds 2m from the fund was split between a long-term endowment and restoration. The renovated gallery has provided space for the National Galleries of Scotland's first outstation for exhibits.

The house, designed by the Adam brothers in the Palladian style and built in 1758, is regarded as one of the finest of its type in Britain.

Mr Home Robertson has always believed homes such as his should be more accessible, and he once invited a group of miners to dine off his Chippendale table. He is regarded as a devout home ruler and, in 1988, was briefly dropped as a spokesman on Scottish housing because of his sympathy for non-payment of the poll tax. But, despite 800 acres of farmland, the financial headache of renovating Paxton House would have been impossible without the help of the heritage fund.

'We could cope with the house but the problem was going to become worse and worse. I entered into negotiations some time ago and always wanted the house and gallery to be fully restored,' Mr Home Robertson said.

'I have heard all the stories about class traitor from the Tories but I have never had, at any level whatsoever, any problems within my constituency. They accept me for who I am and what I am.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing