Galashiels, Scotland, Town Website
home | news | business | organisations | history | braw lads

Town Trail

Old Gala House (2)

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

Old Gala House
Historical Background
Where to Start
(1) Scott Park
(2) Old Gala House
(3) Old Parish & St Paul's Church
(4a) The Tolbooth and Cloth Hall
(4b) The Mercat Cross
(5) Tea Street
(6) Old Burial Ground
(7) St Peter's Episcopal Church & School
(8) Burgh Buildings
(9) Public Library
(10) Market Square
(11) Church of Our Lady & St Andrew
(12) Post Office
(13) Former Co-op Building
(14) Glasite Chapel
(15) Burgh School
(16) Bank Street Gardens
(17) Volunteer Hall
Site by Bordernet in the Scottish Borders  |   legal