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- Category: A
- Date Added: 12/03/1971
- Local Authority: Scottish Borders
- Planning Authority: Scottish Borders
- Burgh: Galashiels
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 49165 35897
- Coordinates: 349165, 635897
16th century core of skewed rectangular-plan bastle with accumulative additions over 17th , 18th and 19th centuries to form asymmetrical U-plan multi-gabled mansion house with formal garden ground rising to E. 1583 2/3-storey bastle to NE with blocked and later openings and 19th century square stair tower to N; 1611 perpendicular 5-bay range with advanced gabled bay extending to SE to form L-plan; circa 1632 3-bay range to SW to form rough U-plan; circa 1830 advanced gabled bays to S, E and W corners to unify U-plan. Mixed rubble; red and yellow sandstone rubble quoins; mixture of edge-roll mouldings to earlier openings; chamfered irregular rybats and smooth and chamfered sandstone margins to later openings. Predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows, multipane glazed 20th century timber doors; pitched slate roofs with some overhanging timber bracketed eaves; stone skews; beaked skewputts to 1830 gables; eclectic mix of rubble and corniced ashlar, gable end, ridge and shouldered wallhead stacks.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: 3-storey, 7-bays to garden (SE) elevation with lower gabled bay to right masking 16th century core to rear; projecting gabled bay off-centre right with advanced narrow crenellated window formation; advanced gabled and crenellated bay to left with classical doorpiece with obelisk pinnacles. 2-storey, 5-bays to entrance (SW) elevation with circa 1830 gabled corner bays flanking 1632 section with remodelled regular window formation. Prominent 3-storey rectangular 1611 stair tower to rear courtyard NW; hexagonal corbelled and square crenellated towers and lower lean-to sections.
INTERIOR: refurbished in 1988 to form offices and museum spaces, however original details survive to principal rooms including fine polychrome geometric and arabesque painted timber ceiling dating to 1635 at first floor. Large corbel lintelled fireplace, ceiling corbels and 18th century fielded panelling survive to 1583 section, (access not possible at time of survey, 2006). Circa 1860 decorative plaster ceilings depicting Persephone and the four ages of a woman in 1st floor drawing room and the plum tree and fox, symbols of Galashiels, to staircase and hall. Panelled timber shutters and window surrounds prevalent. Jacobean oak chimney piece to morning room said to originate from Mary Queen of Scots House in Jedburgh.
BOUNDARY WALLS: Coped stone rubble walls to S and E, Cast-iron railings to W. Later low 20th century concrete block wall to W bordering bowling club.
Statement of Special Interest
Old Gala House is a fine example of a laird's house with a long history of development having been extended and rebuilt at intervals from the 16th to 19th centuries. The house originally stood in its own policies to the W of the Old Town but has gradually been enveloped by the expanding town around it.
A tower on the site since 1457 is no longer evident and presumably subsumed by the secure peel tower house with a 1st floor entrance, built in 1583 by Andrew Hoppringill (Pringle) and the earliest evident part of the house as it stands today. In 1611 Pringle made Galashiels his main residence at which point he is said to have erected the SE wing alongside, but not connected. In 1635 Pringle relocated to Smailholm leaving his daughter Jean to marry Hugh Scott; the Scotts then becoming the Lairds of Gala. The painted timber ceiling, rediscovered in 1952, commemorates this marriage and the subsequent 1635 remodelling of the house. Old Gala House underwent further extensions circa 1830 and 1860, the latter phase being carried out by local builders Robert Hall and Co.
Old Gala House was superseded when the Laird Hugh Scott commissioned the Architect David Bryce to build New Gala House and policies to the W in 1872 (demolished 1985), which it ultimately outlived. The house passed into ownership of Scottish Borders Council and in 1988 Page and Park Architects converted the interior to form a museum celebrating the History of Galashiels, housing the original shaft of the Mercat Cross and elements from the now demolished Old Tollbooth. There is a permanent exhibition to the local sculptor Thomas Clapperton and individual office spaces available to independent groups such as The Old Gala Club. The 1583 section is now converted to form manager's accommodation and the building remains in use as a public facility (2006).
The houses of Woodnook and Bellendean on Gala Terrace, though now substantially altered and in different ownership, are the original kennels linked to Old Gala House, the adjacent Galashiels Bowling Club green was the decorative rose garden in the mid 19th century, and a very large walled garden existed until the earlier 20th century on the site now filled by St Margaret's RC Primary School on Livingston Place. Old Gala House is named 'Beechwood' on the 1897 Ordnance Survey map.
Large 20th century storage shed immediately to NW of rear courtyard.
A Spence Discovering the Borders (1994) p177. C Strang, Borders and Berwick (1994) p197. K Cruft, Buildings of Scotland, Borders (2006) p303.
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