Westgate Hall

the oldest building in the village..

Westgate Hall stands at the western and south-western approaches to the village. Dating from the 17th century (the date 1663 appears above the door), it is an example of a building of that period that was once common in Scotland and is now a category A listed building.

When Sir Archibald Douglas succeeded to the barony of Cavers in the 1380s, he granted the lower part including Denholm, to Thomas Cranston.

 

He was the ancestor of the Cranstons appearing in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, the poem by Sir Walter Scott. But in 1658, the baron of Cavers, also called Sir Archibald Douglas, repurchased these lands and added them back to the barony.

 

The castle of the Cranstons in Denholm was either built anew or renovated, around 1664.

 

The name Westgate Hall was used to distinguish it from another building, East Castle, on the east side of the village on the road to Jedburgh.

It is a two-storey house, with a relatively recent extension and external staircase on the left side of the building. There are four skew-puts (the cornerstone that supports the coping of a gable). The western one bears the heraldic heart of the Douglas family.

Internally at against the right (i.e.north) wall there is an original large fireplace, 5 ft. 10 in. wide. This includes a large lintel (2 ft. high) with two recessed panels. The left panel, which is octagonal, contains the initials S A D for Sir Archibald Douglas and below them the charges of his shield, namely a heart, with three mullets in chief. The right panel is oblong, containing the initials D R S for Dame Rachael Skene and below these letters a 'skean' or dagger between three wolves' heads couped.

In 1907 the top floor was made available as a meeting hall by the Palmer-Douglases, when the outside staircase was added, and was so used until the 1950s.

© 2020 by Jane & Kevin Currie