A tower house belonging to the Home family used to stand on the estate of Peelwalls but no trace of it remains.
Little is known about the original castle or peel tower, hence the name, besides its ownership. It and the neighbouring estate of Bastleridge were owned by different branches of the Home family during the 15th and 16th centuries. A Home of Bastleridge was styled at one point as the “bailiff of the barony of Peelwalls”.
There are no visible remains of the old tower however a local historian, Ramsay Turner, stated that the “original mansion house” stood in the kitchen garden of the present Peelwalls House. The site is located on an eminence within a bend in a burn just south of its confluence with the Eye Water and is partially hidden within a dip in the land when approached from the north.
Some sources conflate the “pile of Ayton” (i.e. Peel of Ayton) “taken with the barmkyn with divers villages and steads thereabouts burnt” in 1542 with Peelwalls, however this may actually refer to Ayton Castle.
By the later 16th century Peelwalls seems to have been owned by the Rule or Roull family and in 1602 and 1603 a Robert Roull of Peillwallis witnessed charters for the local area. It appears on the Gordons’ mid-17th century map as Peelwells.
The castle is marked on Blaeu’s mid-17th century Atlas as Peewaes. In 1677 a Magdalen or Magdallan Rule of Peelwalls gave a communion cup to the church in Ayton. Peelwalls doesn’t appear on Roy’s mid-18th century map of the Lowlands. In the 18th century it was owned by the Smith of Peelwalls family before they moved to Cumledge.
The date of construction of the present Peelwalls House is generally given as around 1830 for a John Dickson, however Peelwalls is illustrated as a substantial house on Blackadder’s map of 1797, again on an imprint of Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland from 1821 and on several other maps pre-dating 1830. It may be that the work for Dickson was remodelling and extending rather than wholesale construction.
Indeed the New Statistical Account, published in 1834, states that Peelwalls “within the last three or four years, has undergone an extraordinary metamorphosis under the judicious management of a new proprietor. An elegant new mansion-house has been built of beautiful stone, brought from the far-famed quarries of Killala, in Fifeshire; and the grounds and public roads have been so completely changed and improved, that any one who has not seen the place during that short period would be utterly at a loss to recognize it as the same.”
In 1955 John Darling Smith of Peelwalls died and the following year Berwickshire County Council bought Peelwalls and converted into a nursing home. Following its subsequent sale in 2012 it reverted back to a private house with the new owners restoring it to its former glory.
Alternative names for Peelwalls
Peel of Ayton; Peelwaes; Peelwalls House; Peelwells; Peillwallis; Pile of Ayton