2 miles NW of Galashiels
Torwoodlee Tower is a large 16th century two storey tower house within a courtyard.
This lovely castle is hidden not far from the main road, and makes for short walk from the parking area down into what would have been terraced gardens and courtyard. The castle was sacked in 1568 by 'lawless clans' and so what you see today was rebuilt more as a mansion in 1601, before being eventually abandoned and left to fall into ruin in 1783, in favour of Torwoodlee House.
~ History ~
1501 ~ William Hoppringill takes a "tack" or lease of land at Torwoodlee, having moved from Smailholm Castle, where his father and forebears had been squires to the Earls of Douglas.
1510 ~ William's hold onTorwoodlee is "feued" or sold to him and his son George.
1513 ~ William Pringle, 1st Laird of Torwoodlee is slain at the Battle of Flodden fighting against the English agression to force the infant Mary, future Queen of Scots into marrying King Henry VIII's son and future King of England. William is succeeded by his son George as 2nd Laird. He later marries Margaret Crichton and has ten children.
1547 ~ George Pringle survives the Battle of Pinkie, a continued compaign by the English to force alliance with Scotland against the auld enemy France, through the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to the young King Edward of England. A Scots army of some 22,000 men line up against a far better equiped 18,000 English, supported with artillery. The outcome is a complete disaster for Scotand with some 6,000 casualties to England's 500.
1568 ~ Torwoodlee Tower is sacked by John and Robert Elliot, as well as the notorious Armstrongs led by Jock Armstrong, along with other 'lawless clans'. Their combined force numbering some 300 men pillage more than £1,000 in money, silver and horses. George Pringle is held 'captive and prisoner, and most cruelly and unmercifully murderist and slew him'. With the Kingdom in a state of turmoil itself with a weak Government, no attempt is made to punish them.
1601 ~ George, the 4th Laird of Torwoodlee rebuilds the ruined tower in the style of a mansion house within a courtyard with extensive terraces to accommodate orchards and gardens. The decision to build a more luxurious home less concerned with defence is that it is widely believed that King James VI of Scotland will succeed the aging and childless Queen Elizabeth of England, and so unite the two Kingdoms as one, bringing peace to southern Scotland and the lawless Border country.
1603 ~ Queen Elizabeth of England dies, and so as expected, King James of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and great-grandson to King Henry VII of England, is crowned King of the two Kingdoms.
1607 ~ The remaining survivors of those who sacked Torwoodlee Tower are called to answer for their crime. Having failed to appear before court, they are branded outlaws.
1624 ~ George Pringle, as 4th Laird of Torwoodlee Tower, instigates a belated prosecution of the Elliots and Armstrongs.
He is later awarded the office of Sheriff of Selkirkshire.
1641 ~ James Pringle, the 5th Laird, becomes a Member of Parliament and is appointed a collector of Selkirkshire's quota to maintain the Scottish army in Ireland.
1663 ~ Following restortaion of the Stuart's to the throne some three years earlier, a Test Act preventing Catholics from positions of power and influence is passed. The Protestant Earl of Argyle not fully understanding what he was agreeing to, is imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle and sentanced to death. His friends and supporters immediately set about a plan of escape and, in time, the Earl comes to Torwoodlee on his way south to the border. George Pringle, 6th Laird of Torwoodlee, gives him meat, money and a guide and in doing so becomes a wanted man himself.
1684 ~ After being implicated in a plot to defend the country from Popery, George Pringle flees to Holland along with many others and the lands of Torwoodlee are confiscated by the Crown.
At this time, George’s son and heir, James aged 16, is imprisoned for months, threatened with torture and immediate excecution if he does not tell who informed his father of the coming of the party to apprehend him. After some time he is admitted to bail of £5000.
1698 ~ The Prince of Orange sweeps into power, backed by many including George Pringle.
1783 ~ The tower is abandoned for nearby Torwoodlee House.