The Unassuming Old Gala House in Galashiels
Old Gala House, once the Lairds of Galashiels stately home, is an impressive building dating back to 1583. Nestled within beautifully landscaped grounds and shrouded in a quiet mystique, it holds a storied past within its walls.
This historic home is a vibrant museum and gallery by day. It showcases the town’s history, including its famous ‘soor plooms‘ motto and its ties to the Pringle family.
The museum brings to life vibrant tales where visitors can explore the house’s historical roots, with highlights like the painted ceiling from 1635 and the famous Thomas Clapperton Room, a permanent exhibition on the ground floor dedicated to a local sculptor.
Despite its stunning gardens and Scottish charm, paranormal tales come to life as the evening descends.
Guests and staff alike have reported unsettling experiences, reports of mysterious lights flickering out of the corner of their eyes, statues moving, and ghostly echoes of whistling and children’s laughter. Some have felt the chilling presence of a looming, spectral figure towering over them, its icy aura reminiscent of a Scottish winter.
The History of the Old Gala House
The house has a storied past that spans several centuries. Its origins harken back to the 15th century when it began as an original tower house built by the Pringle family in 1457. The family was granted the impressive building by the Earl of Douglas.
The Pringle Family
The property saw substantial renovations in 1583 when Andrew Pringle took over the residence.
The building evolved over time, with Sir James Pringle, the final Pringle Laird of Gala, adding a self-contained wing in 1611. It extended the structure’s form into an L-shape.
It wasn’t until 1635, when Sir James Pringle’s daughter, Jean Pringle, married Hugh Scott that the residence became the property of the Scott family.
The Scott Family
The marriage brought on even more extensive renovations, including creating a wooden panelled ceiling dating back to 1635 to mark the marriage.
The Scotts of Galashiels resided in the historic home until 1872, when they built the New Gala House. Sadly, the New Gala House was knocked down in 1985.
In 1988, the Gala property was taken over by the Scottish Borders Council. And they converted it into a gallery and museum just off Scott Crescent in the Old Town.
A Tower of Terror As a Neighbour: The Buckholm Tower
Just a short 5 kilometres from Old Gala House lies a history of horror at Buckholm Tower, and it all ties back to one of the original owners of the Gala house – Sir James Pringle.
It’s still being determined whether this is the same James Pringle, Laird of Gala, but the eerie connection between the names and the too-close-for-comfort location of the tower from the old house seems more than a coincidence…
The Gore and Lore of Buckholm Tower
Buckholm Tower’s ruins in Galashiels are said to harbour the ghostly presence of a former laird named James Pringle, who resided there during the 18th century. These ruins, known far and wide, are typically avoided by the locals.
Local tales recount strange noises from the dungeon, and a persistent bloodstain on an old beam said to be where Pringle committed a grim act.
James Pringle was infamous for his temper, cruelty, and hostility. His wife and children fled from him after years of mistreatment. With a reputation for malevolence spread far and wide, it was said that his preferred pastime was hunting and persecuting the Covenanters with his hounds.
The Wrath of James Pringle
However, the most harrowing tale associated with Pringle involves the imprisonment of a father and his son in the tower’s dungeons. As you might expect, this story doesn’t end well. When the wife and mother witnessed the bloody aftermath, she cursed Pringle, prophesying that the hounds of hell would forever pursue him, even beyond the day of his death.
Her words held such power that Pringle believed demonic dogs chased him wherever he went. And so, James Pringle met a violent, agonizing end.
Some believe that those hellish hounds eventually caught up to Pringle. Today, it is said that he still haunts the infamous Buckholm Tower.
Other Hauntings Near The Stately Home
While the Old Gala House is no stranger to ghostly tales, it is at the heart of some of the eeriest hauntings in the Scottish Borders. This region is known for its mysterious and unsettling stories tucked away in the quieter corners of its smaller parishes.
Binniemyre Guest House
Just 1.3 kilometres down the road from the building, you’ll find the Binniemyre Guest House.
This cosy abode, originally named “Eildon View” when it was built in 1862, used to enjoy unmatched views of the majestic Eildon Hills. It was the creation of the Morrison family, who were well-to-do mill owners in the area.
Despite their success, the family had their share of heartache. The story goes that one of their daughters, Lucy, left at the altar, was so heartbroken that she tragically took her own life in the house’s private chapel room.
It’s rumoured that Lucy’s ghost still visits Binniemyre. The owner and guests have reported sightings of a woman in a white dress wandering through the house.
It’s not necessarily a haunting, but it is a very eerie and peculiar story nonetheless. We’ll just say it involves raining worms!
Just a stone’s throw away (right across the street) from the estate is the Galashiels Academy. In 2011, a group of astonished students had a rather bizarre experience as worms fell from the sky onto their football pitch.
The PE teacher who witnessed this odd event said they heard a “thudding sound”: “There were about 20 worms on the ground. Then they just kept coming down.”
After a search of the football pitch and tennis courts, the school staff found around 120 worms!
It’s quite peculiar how this happened right next to the estate…
Can you do ghost hunts at Old Gala House?
Yes, indeed! With the supernatural atmosphere in and around the Gala residence, numerous ghost hunts are taking place. Haunted Room is a well-known source for organizing ghost hunts at the Gala mansion. Before you venture into the haunted rooms, take a moment to savour the beautifully maintained grounds!
What ghost-hunting equipment should I take to the Gala Mansion?
If you’re gearing up for a ghost hunt at the mansion, here’s the essential ghost-hunting equipment you should consider bringing:
Are you intrigued by the eerie echoes in and around the estate? This unassuming yet impressive building, dating back to the 16th century, is steeped in history and mystery. Not only is it grand to explore by day, but when night falls, it’s prime for ghostly adventures.
And if you have your wits about you, be sure to explore the eerie hauntings beyond its beautifully landscaped grounds.