GALLERY: Peckover House exhibition has a wealth of costumes

16:21 04 August 2014

Before The Peckovers exhibition

Before The Peckovers exhibition

Copyright: Barry Giddings

A month-long exhibition at Peckover House reveals how some of the first residents at the Wisbech home would have lived.

It will also explore what life was like for the rich and poor residents of the town in the 18th century.

“We tend to think of the house from the time the Peckover family moved in, around 1794,” said Diane Smith, the exhibition’s organiser.

“But the house has a far longer and richer story to tell and it has been so interesting to do the detective work and to find out so much.”

The Peckover family’s wealth derived from banking. In 1777 Jonathan Peckover moved to Wisbech and established a small grocer’s business. Respected by his customers he soon began holding their money for safe-keeping.

Before The Peckovers exhibition. Diane Smith with an exhibitBefore The Peckovers exhibition. Diane Smith with an exhibit

What was informally known as Peckover’s Bank had seven accounts in its ledger in 1782, when Jonathan entered into partnership with the well-established Quaker bankers, Gurneys & Co. of Norwich.

The bank, now know as the Wisbech and Lincolnshire Bank, became the town’s first official bank.

It thrived under his family’s management until 1893 when direct family involvement in the bank ceased.

In 1896 the Peckover’s bank was amalgamated with nineteen other private banks into Barclays Bank.

The Peckovers played an important role in the history of Wisbech, and through their wealth, they supported many institutions including the Wisbech and Fenland Museum and the Working Men’s Club and Institute.

Known for their philanthropy, they were concerned with various causes and campaigned for the abolition of slavery, pacificism and improvements in education.

With costumes and a wealth of other exhibits, Peckover before the Peckovers runs at the National Trust-owned house in North Brink, Wisbech, until September 3 from 1pm until last admission of 4.30pm.

There is no extra admission charge.

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