Thursday, 9 May 2019

George The Second

Here is Peckover House, Wisbech. It is a beautiful red brick Georgian property, with wonderfully perfumed wisteria climbing the walls. 
The building of the property began in 1720, as the town of Wisbech began to grow. Various families lived here until 1752, when the Southwell family purchased it, and kept it until the end of the century. They made lots of changes, adding many decorations - carved plaster, rococo swags etc. Then in 1794, it was bought by the Peckover family who kept it for 150 years.
The Peckovers were Quakers, who owned a Bank [later to be amalgamated with other Quaker Banks to become Barclays] The bank was the front part of the property- then over the years, extensions were added on east and west sides, and the banking business moved out.
The last member of the family to live there, a single woman, Alexandrine Peckover, donated the house to the Trust in the 1940s. Sadly much of the original furniture was sold - but the NT have worked hard to restore the property to its Georgian splendour.
Below - entrance, sitting room, dining room and green house[pictures from NT website]
I was so busy enjoying the house that I did not take that many photographs!
I really want to go back again and have another look round. There were some excellent displays explaining that the Peckover family took their faith very seriously and it impacted their lifestyle.
They displayed compassion and generosity in their dealings with others, they were therefore respected for their integrity in business - and they also show a keen interest in the world around. Their hard earned wealth enabled them to travel and bring back items from around the globe, which they used to educate others. 
Lord Peckever was a great philanthropist and avid book collector. His immense library contained many early Bibles and other interesting books[but many were sold after his death]. Gradually the NT has been re-acquiring some of these volumes, and there is currently a display of "Lord Peckover's Lost Library"
I was particularly taken with some paper sculptures made as part of the Lost Library Event.
Here is a paper dove, representing the Holy Spirit, flying out from the pages of a Bible, and a galleon sailing out on the wild waves of an atlas. Do click on them for a closer look.
Many NT properties place teasels on the seats of valuable chairs, to prevent visitors from sitting down and damaging them, and neatly printed notices on display items which must not be handled. At Peckover, someone has gone to great trouble to make these notices in needlework- Please do not touch, please read me, please do not sit on this chair...
And in many rooms, there was a handwritten notebook with details of the pictures on the walls and the furnishings. 
What a labour of love, when so often these days we resort so quickly to typing out the details.
It somehow sat well with the simple Quaker way of life.
The everyday china was plain black and white, avoiding fancy colourful decoration [ even if the boiled egg came in a fancy copper device]. The kitchen was a typical NT display with many Victorian baking items on a large table.
There was a cookery book which was interspersed with advertisements. Cleavers Terebine Toilet Soap seems to have been the most splendid product. I'm not sure you'd get away with ads like this nowadays!
"The only person saved from the wreck was one little maiden, and she with the cleverness her sex, had taken a piece of Cleaver's Soap and washed herself ashore"
The Housekeeper's Room, off the kitchen, was set up as it was when the NT acquired the house - with 1940s furnishings. But the little radio was playing Wartime Songs, and a gas mask box, a make-do-and-mend leaflet and a recipe book using rationed foods reminded visitors that the house had a past that was not just Georgian or Victorian.
This was an excellent house to visit.
I love the proportions of the Georgian Architecture, and the elegant furnishings.  I didn't get time to look round the gardens properly, just a quick peep into the stable block, and a moment to admire plants arranged on a step.
There was a real sense of peace here - and many indications of the kindness and integrity of the Peckover family. They were clearly held in high regard by the community. There was a photo from 1907 - Alexander Peckover was made a Baron of the Realm [the first Quaker to be ennobled] The whole town turned out to welcome him home from his visit to the King
Lord Peckham insisted his peerage should not be hereditary - he wanted his sons to achieve things for themselves, not be handed them on a plate!
Peckover House is definitely on my wishlist for a second visit [combined with seeing Octavia Hill's house too]
I am really getting interested in the Georgians now [sorry Tudors, you are going on the back burner for a bit]


  1. Those paper sculptures really are something special! I love the dove and Bible symbolism.

  2. It is so interesting! I love visiting houses like this.

  3. I like the idea of a housekeeper's room! Maybe I'll carve out a housekeeper's corner just for me...

  4. "She washed herself ashore"! I love that! :D

    I love the paper sculptures, too! I would love to learn how to make the dove!


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