Improvements of Late (1977)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published in 1977 and written by Maj. R.W. Hannay, [then] Chief of the Clan Hannay.
This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: Any hyperlinks and images that may have been in the original article are now lost. Hyperlinks below were added (and references to lost images removed or substituted) when the archived version was reviewed and revised in August, 2020. 


Sorbie Tower in the ancient province of Galloway in Scotland is the place from which we have all sprung. Although in ruins, there is still a substantial part of it remaining. A grim old place with massive walls its stones whisper stories of the past when every man’s hand was against his neighbour and the Hannays were a force to be reckoned with in those rebellious times. The Tower is included in the published list of Ancient Monuments whose preservation is regarded as of national importance.

In 1965, the owner of the surrounding property, Mrs. Jean Cummings, most generously presented the Tower with an area of ground surrounding to be held in Trust by the Clan. The Trustees are your Convener, Secretary and Treasurer, Ramsay Rainsford-Hannay, Alex Hannah and Donald Hannah respectively.

The Society appointed Andrew Hannah, the only bearer of the name now in Sorbie, general custodian of the Tower and erected fences and gates around the tower as required in the Trust agreement. Andrew kept the surrounding clear of undergrowth and organized the removal of centuries of debris from the interior.

In 1972, the Society acquired a full acre surrounding the Tower and formed a new access, a small car park and fenced the new boundaries.

In 1975, the Society was approached by a charity, the Estate of Hope and Kindness who are interested in restoration work and they cleaned off the ivy overgrowing the Tower and cut down much of the surrounding shrubbery.

In 1976, the Estate obtained a Government Grant and the first real advance in the restoration of the Tower was made. While wages were met by the Grant, equipment and materials were paid for by the Society from the proceeds of an urgent appeal to the membership. An enlarged property consolidated access road and car park were made; a large hut erected with water and electricity supply. The floor of the Tower was cobbled, the stairway from the ground to the first floor rebuilt and a large area of original courtyard at the entrance uncovered.

Altogether the Society has collected and spent over 4,000 pounds in the restoration project and those who know the Tower in the past cannot fail to be impressed with the progress.

The work is by no means completed and the immediate tasks are to restore the dressed stone of the window openings and to repair a large hole in the vaulted floor of the Great Hall. These are skilled operations. But the craftsmen are available if we can provide the funds. Few Clan Societies possess a heritage as impressive as Sorbie Tower and it is our privilege to cherish it in our time for future generations.

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