Adjacent to the Bowling Club is Old Gala House. In 1455 the
Douglas family had grown too powerful for the liking of King
James II (1437-1460). They were stripped of their power and
the Earl was charged with treason but their followers were
allowed to retain their land. The Pringle family (originally
called Hoppringle) had been supporters of the Douglases and
they had their lands confirmed by the King. They built a tower
in 1457, sections of which were later incorporated into the
building you see here, which dates from 1583. The family owned
the house until 1632, when Sir James Pringle found himself
in financial difficulties and left Gala for the family home
of Smailholm Tower near Kelso, where he died three years later.
The house passed from the Pringles into the ownership of
the Scott family through the marriage of Jean, Sir James's
daughter, to Hugh Scott. In 1745, a division of Bonnie Prince
Charlie's army visited Galashiels. Although the Prince was
not present, the officer commanding the division was entertained
at Old Gala House by Lady Scott. During his life, Sir Walter
Scott was a frequent visitor to Old Gala House as he was friendly
with Captain Scott of Gala. The Scotts of Galashiels stayed
here until 1876, when they moved to New Gala House.
The house was extended in the 18th and 19th century to its
present form, although at one time there was an entrance porch.
Today, Old Gala House is a museum with information and displays
about the house and its occupants as well as the town and
local artists and can be visited free of charge. You can see
artefacts from some of the historic buildings of the Old Town,
such as the weather vane from the old Tolbooth and the original
shaft from the Mercat Cross. One of the rooms has a painted
ceiling dating from 1635 which was covered over for many years
and rediscovered in the middle of the 20th century. This commemorates
the remodelling of the house by Jean Pringle and Hugh Scott,
whose initials can be seen on the ceiling. You should also
note the plaster ceiling dating from the 18th century in the
Christopher Boyd Gallery.
The Galashiels Arts Club was fortunate enough to be able
to purchase the house in 1949 for their use, later passing
ownership to Scottish Borders Council. It is now used on a
regular basis for art exhibitions. In the summer, students
from the Borders Campus of Heriot-Watt University attend a
reception here after their graduation ceremony in Old Parish
& St Paul's Church. The house and gardens are also popular
venues for weddings and wedding photographs.
Cross Scott Crescent and walk uphill towards Old Parish &
St Paul's Church.
Next: Old Parish &
St Paul's Parish Church