> Torwoodlee Tower
More than 400 years since it was built, the present owners have now consolidated Torwoodlee Tower to stop it falling down any more and to retain its romantic appeal for the People of Galashiels and further afield.
They have erected interpretation boards offering the public more information, and over the coming years we hope to improve the access still further and to replace the conifer trees surrounding it with something more historically suitable.
Recent research suggests that the Pringle Family had a ‘tack’ of Torwoodlee in 1480 or before and built a tower there in the early 1500s. This was sacked and burned by ‘Elliots and Armstrongs and other lawless clans’ in 1568 and it was replaced with this Torwoodlee Tower in 1601.
As you can see from the architect’s impression below, this is a good example of the style of mansion which, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, was superseding the plainer and more traditional peel tower houses. The ground floor is still vaulted and provided with loopholes for defence and there is also a shot-hole under the sill of the upper tower window; otherwise the military aspect gives way to one of a more open and more peaceful character. Krystyna Pytasz of Addison Conservation, who architected the work, kindly used her experience and knowledge to produce the impression of a grand tower house which far surpasses our original thoughts.
Having been abandoned in 1783 for a modern house, the remains of the Tower became increasingly precarious over the years but it is an iconic local ruin and an important historical landmark; it plays a large part in the history of Galashiels and in the Braw Lads’ Gathering.
James Pringle, the fourteenth and current laird of Torwoodlee, said: “In 2001 we launched a campaign to raise the funds we needed to consolidate this romantic ruin. That year was the quincentennary of 1501 when we (officially) first came to Torwoodlee and it seemed a very apt moment to be thinking of the next 500 years.
“Now, thanks to the generosity of the Fallago Environment Fund, Historic Scotland, local people and Pringles from around the world, we have halted the deterioration and we hope it will continue to play a part in the social fabric of life for centuries to come. As a family, we believe it is important to maintain the historical built environment as well as the natural one and I am very happy to see so much management time and effort resulting in a community benefit like this."
Luke Comins, Director of Tweed Forum, who manages the Fallago Environment Fund on behalf of Roxburghe Estates and EDF Energy, said: “The fund was established to protect and enhance the rich heritage of the Borders and this is the biggest grant given to date in recognition of the importance of this project.”
Torwoodlee Tower is situated just west of Galashiels off the A72.