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About the Area
Deep in the heart of Romantic Scottish Border country and set on the banks of the River Tweed, the picturesque town of Peebles has much to offer. Peebles grew up around a long-vanished medieval wooden castle and was created a Royal burgh in 1367. The town housed prisoners from the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century and the Old Town House has an upper room in which the prisoners would perform French plays for their own amusement. The prisoners also helped to build The Tontine Hotel, which was completed in 1808. The hotel was financed by an unusual form of money raising called the Tontine principle, in which a group of people invest in a project, but lose their share on death, finally leaving one surviving investor who becomes the sole owner. Not surprisingly, this form of money-raising is not used today.
Two historic families have close connections with Peebles. The Chambers family, who are known for their publishing ventures with dictionaries, encyclopedias and educational books, lived in Biggiesknowe, a street in the old part of town. In the same house, 70 years earlier, the notorious 4th Duke of Queensbury, William Douglas was born. The Douglas home was Neidpath Castle, which is set dramatically above the banks of the River Tweed, just outside Peebles. The walls of the castle are 12 feet thick and inside there is a well driven through the solid rock and a pit prison.
The countryside surrounding Peebles is also of spectacular beauty with great rolling hills and wooded valleys and with its close proximity to England the area has been witness to many battles over the years between the English and Scots and Thirlestane Castle, near Lauder and Traquair House at Innerleithen have connections with those times. Thirlestane is one of Scotland's oldest and finest castles and contains a collection of historic toys and country life exhibitions. Traquair is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland and has secret stairs, cellars, exhibitions, events and the famous Traquair Ale, brewed on the premises. The Bear Gates, within the grounds, remain unopened since Bonny Prince Charlie passed through them for the last time.
'Border Country' has also been immortalised in the works of Sir Walter Scott and you can visit the house he built and lived in for part of his life, at Abbotsford, near Galashiels. Scott completely rebuilt the castellated mansion and the house contains his collection of historic relics, including Rob Roy's gun and Bonnie Prince Charlie's drinking cup.