TWEEDSMUIR PARISH HISTORY.

25.2. Polmood.    

  

 Above left - Armstrong 1775.         Above right OS 25 inch Map 1885.

Although the Hunter family had been at Polmood for centuries little has been mentioned about the actual building at Polmood that was the family seat.   We know that the current Polmood was built c1887(1) probably on the site of  the ruin of the previous building - see below.   However before this the name of Polmood was attached to the farm House just north of the ruins and this building would appear to have been the seat of the Hunter family for several generations for probably well over a century.

The first meaningful clue to this is the Armstrong map of 1775  - see above that clearly shows two edifices.  The upper one being in black indicating that it was inhabited and the lower one indicating uninhabited.  The upper building being accessed directly via a narrow bridge across the Tweed with no access shown to the lower building.

The 1815 reprint of Alexander Pennecuik's Works of his original works of 1715(2) includes some interesting comments.   In the 1715 section he stated "house of Powmood, lately well repaired, and also  "below Powmood, are Powmood Mill and Patervan."  The Notes section of the Works that are post 1715 includes "Bowerhouse, Polmood, Polmood Mill, and Patervan, belong to the Miss Hunter of Polmood the Lady of Lord Forbes"  and the following "Polmood is a small neat seat on the banks of the Tweed, with a few trees to screen it from the peircing blast that thrill through this narrow schasm - Armstrong Drumelzieer.(2)(3)  The problem is to which building were Pennecuik/Armstrong referring?   The OS 25 miles to the inch map above shows much more detail than is availabe on smaller scale maps.  Here it is plain that the name of Polmood is attached to Polmood Farm the group of buildings at the top of the page and that the ruins are labelled  Polmood Ruins of in old type script indicating a heritage site.  (These buildings were known as Polmood Farm in the census of 1901.)  Thus, when Pennecuik reported that the " house of Polmood, lately well repaired" was actually referring to the Polmood Farm buildings and not to the ruins.   Stones from the ruin would have been used in these repairs including the date stone that is presently on the north gable of the farm house(4).   It is also evident on the map that there is no trackway to the ruins while there is a track to the Farm House that crossed the Tweed via a ford that was just where the Tweed widened just off the foot of the map.  This trackway replacing the direct access via a bridge shown on the Armstrong map.   One presumes that the bridge must have been swept away during a spate on the Tweed.   The tree wind break mentioned above would appear, on the map, to be more around the Farm House than around the ruin site.  The small square building to the right of the map is the Polmood Mill mentioned above.   However it was built as a Dovecote in the seventeenth century(1) (4).

When Sir John Murray was captured at Polmood by the Redcoats in 1746 it was probably at the Farm House.  More about this capture on page 25.3 Capture of Sir John Murray.

 

The image in Chambers 1864 History of Peeblesshire - on left - shows the ruins of Polmood in a derelict state(5).  The date of the etching was contemporaneous with the book as the images in the book were produced for the publication(5).   However, the ruins had probably been in that state for some time. 

The Ordnance Survey Name Book for Peebleshire of 1856(6) has some interesting details for two entries under the heading for Polmood that were written by John Murray of Heartstanes and William Cook of Polmood,  both entries follow -

"Polmood - About 3/4 miles SE from Kingledores.   This name applies to a small one storey slated farm house, with corresponding office houses and a small arable farm attached.   Occupied by William Cook - all of which is the property of one Mr Mitchell of Maryville, near Leith."

"Polmood (Ruins of ) - About 3/4 miles SE of Kingledores.  The ruins of an ancient building  "said to have been a hunting seat of the Kings of Scotland".  It had evidently been a place of some note - although never apparently of great dimensions, the walls are still standing which are about two feet thick & very much defaced & bearing indication of its having been inhabitated for a considerable time past.  On a stone over one of the interior doors are the initials R.H. with a heart & and the date 1678, and the characters appear on a Corse stone leaning against the ruins with the exception of the date which is 1638".

The entries were written by local men that had probably viewed the ruins over a period of time and knew them very well and we are fortunate to have their very revealing comments.   The two feet thickness of the walls would suggest that at least part of the building was from a defensive ediface of some age.    The fact that there were only two date stones mentioned confirms that the third stone(4) must have been incorporated into the farm house prior to 1715 during the repairs mentioned by Pennecuik above.  The date of 1678 on one of the stones mentioned above would appear to indicate that the building was in use at that time hence giving a date between 1678 and 1715 when the building became uninhabitable and eventually became a ruin.

The owner of Polmood c1958 reported that a vaulted cellar was discovered beneath the kitchen floor some years ago and that this suggested that the existing structure stood upon the site of the earlier one(4).   It is a pity that he did not have the vaulted cellar recorded and dated by an expert while it was available for inspection.   This information in conjunction with the information on the ruins discussed above would undoubtedly assist in the question as to whether the site dates back towards the time of the lost Peel Tower of Polmood?    A vaulted cellar was a feature of the ground floor of Peel Towers(8).   Polmood Peel Tower was a very important relay station for the signal fires route from Oliver Castle/Bield northwards to Kingledores, Mossfennan etc up the Tweed Valley.

 

Walter, the 19th Lord Forbes, daughter of Elizabeth Hunter sold the Polmood lands in 1864 for £6,600 to Warren Mitchell, thus taking the lands out of Hunter hands for the first time in 800 years.  Mitchell then scandalously demolished the ancient ruins, which the Hunter family had not touched for well over a century, and built a new dwelling on the site c1887(7) shown above.   However, all was not lost as fortunately the two date stones from the ruin with Hunter family initials mentioned above were incorporated into the new building, thus maintaining a slender Hunter family connection. 

The view above is from a postcard made by Mrs. Turnbull the postmistress at the Polmood Post Office dates to c1910. More about Polmood Post Office on page 24.  Post Offices of Tweedsmuir page.   The magnificent thistle design gates were probably erected in 1889 when the Mitchell family aquired from James Tweedie of Quarter a small part of the lands of Kingledores (.313 acres) to serve as an access to Polmood House from the highroad.(7).    The gates are no longer there - neither is the pillar separating the main and side gates.  At the rear of the property there is an entrance to a courtyard where there is a nice thistle design metal gate.   This gate could be either a matching gate contemporanous with the main front gates or it could be part of the side gate shown on the postcard remodelled to fit.  Apart from the gates a bridge over the Tweed replacing the ford and the gatehouse would have been added at this time.   A fair bit of landscaping would have been involved in this work and it was probably this work that covered the early mediaeval burial cist that was at this location.  More about this cist in section 2.l. on page 2. Early Peoples.  

Polmood in 1948 above(9).    It still has a strong attraction for world wide members of the Clan Hunter as it is on the site of the original seat of Hunter of Polmood. 

References.

1)  Strang, Alexander, Charles; Borders and Berwick, An Illustrated Architectural Guide to the Scottish Borders and Tweed Valley, Rutland Press, Edinburgh, 1994. p248-249.  

2)  Pennecuik, Alexander, Dr; Works, containing the Description of Tweeddale, Allardice, Leith, 1815. p251

3)  Armstrong, John, Mostyn; A Companion to the Map  of the County of Peebles, W. Creech, Edinburgh, 1775. pp30-35. 

4)  The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory for Peeblesshire, Edinburgh, 1967.  Vol II No 579, p305.  Canmore ID 49757

5)  Chambers, William; A History of Peeblesshire, William & Robert Chambers, Edinburgh, 1864.  For date of etchinbg Preface p viii.  For etching p426.

6)  Ordnance Survey; Name Book, 1856, Peeblesshire Vol 07.

7)  Buchan, J.W. & Paton, Rev. H; History of Peeblesshire, Jackson, Wylie, Glasgow, 1927.  pp451-461 for Polmood, p462 for Polmood Access.

8)  Tweedie, Forbes, Michael; The History of the Tweedie or Tweedy Family, Griffith & Sons, London, 1902. Section 8, p141. 

9)  Grant, Will; Tweeddale, Oliver & Boyd,Edinburgh,1948. p110. 

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