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Issue 31 - The Broughton Gallery

Scotland Magazine Issue 31
February 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The Broughton Gallery

In the latest of our series on Scotland's galleries and museums, Charles Douglas visits a very special art gallery in the Borders

Visitors to Scotland have a habit of by-passing some of the great treasures of the Lowlands, such as the small and picturesque village of Broughton, close to the source of the great River Tweed in the hills of Upper Tweeddale, south of Peeblesshire.

A quiet place, it seems to me, the ideal spot to house a contemporary art and crafts collection. And that is exactly what you find here installed at Broughton Place, a tower house situated on the northern approach, designed in the 1930s by the architect Sir Basil Spence, whose centenary is this year.

As was so often the case with historic buildings in Scotland, Broughton Place was erected on the site of Broughton House. This itself had incorporated part of an older tower house, the home of Sir John Murray who acted as secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stuart after his arrival in Scotland in 1745. Following the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Murray, who had been taken ill, sought refuge at Glenmoriston, across Loch Ness. From here he fled to Peeblesshire, where he was arrested and dispatched to the Tower of London.

Having turned King’s Evidence against his former Jacobite compatriots, he was largely shunned by his friends and colleagues after his release and remained in England until his death in 1777.

Following a visit from him at some stage after the Uprising, Sir Walter Scott’s father threw the teacup that Murray had used out of the window, declaring, “Neither lip of me nor mine comes after Mr Murray of Broughton’s.” Thirteen years prior to his death, however, the Murray family’s Broughton estates were sold by order of the Edinburgh Court of Session in company with many others belonging to other Jacobite sympathisers. Such is the price of failure. In 1775, Broughton House was burned to the ground.

Broughton Place was completed in 1938 and designed by the young Basil Spence for Professor and Mrs Elliott in the style of a 17th century Scottish tower house. Under Spence’s guidance, decorative reliefs were added by the Scottish architectural sculptor Hew Lorimer. It remains a private home, but the art gallery, which occupies the ground floor, is well worth a visit even if it means a day excursion from Edinburgh, Glasgow or even Berwick-upon-Tweed.

And besides, Broughton Place, the surrounding garden, and the pretty village where the novelist John Buchan passed much of his childhood at his maternal grandfather’s farm, provide a treat to the senses.

For 30 years the gallery was run by Graham and Jane Buchanan-Dunlop.

However, last year, Bill McCabe took over as director and embarked upon a series of innovative ceramics, jewellery, metalwork and painting exhibitions. Artists who have exhibited here include jewellers Olivia Schlevogt, Chris Carpenter and Dianne King, painters Carol Moore, Annette Edgar and John Lowrie Morrison, and sculptors Chris Knight and Olivia Musgrave. In addition, there is a permanent display of photographs by the talented local photographer Liz Hanson.

The Broughton Gallery’s statement of purpose is simply that it seeks to provide a showcase for exceptional and competitively-priced contemporary arts and crafts.

Wherever possible, work is sourced from Scotland, and draws inspiration from William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement in the preservation of arts and crafts and to counteract against the effects of mass production.

To my mind, this gem of a place needs to be recognised as such, and after your visit, either head onwards south towards the Devil’s Beef Tub and Moffat, east through the Meggat Valley towards St Mary’s Loch, or west into the rolling hills of Dumfriesshire. The scenery here is as breathtaking as anything you will find in the Highlands.

Broughton Gallery Broughton Place, Broughton, by Biggar ML12 6HJ

The gallery is open 10.30am to 6.00pm every day during exhibitions which run on a 4-6 week cycle, opening on a Sunday and closing on a Tuesday
Tel: +44 (0)1899 830 234 Email: Website: