GALLERY: Stately Peckover House provides a £1m make over for upmarket holiday let in Wisbech
- Credit: Archant
A CENTURY ago it was stormed by rioters. Today the stately Georgian townhouse is enjoying a more leisurely life after a £1m facelift.
Conservationists from the National Trust have spent four years restoring Wainman House, on the North Brink at Wisbech.
The three-storey Grade I listed property, on the banks of the Nene, is opening as a holiday cottage, where guests can travel back in time and experience what life was like in Georgian times.
“As a charity, we have to target our resources and find different ways to help preserve old, unused buildings and turning this townhouse into a holiday let will help guarantee its future for years to come,” said Nigel Houghton, the trust’s project manager.
“This has been a huge conservation project, with a lot of hard work going into restoring this wonderful old building, so it’s very satisfying to see the house looking magnificent once more.”
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The interior reflects how the house would have been decorated in the early 1800s, with simple colours and furnishings reflecting its Quaker heritage.
The property, next to the National Trust’s Peckover House, was lived in by the surgeon Oglethorpe Wainman, his wife Ann and their two daughters at the time.
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As well as living comfortably in one of the town’s most prestigious addresses, Dr Wainman is also believed to have carried out his operations from his home.
Curator Mike Sutherill said: “If Ann Wainman was to return to her family home today, the current furnishings, their arrangements, the fabric and curtains would all be of a style familiar to her.
“We have used illustrations and inventories of the contents from similar properties of the period to help us restore the house.
“Huge attention has been paid to detail. For example, the living room carpet has been specially-made from a design created in around 1790 and has been hand-stitched.
“To find the appropriate colours for the walls, paint sections have been examined under a microscope, the different layers of paint identified, then the colour relating to the late Georgian period reproduced.”
As they worked on the house, trust staff found samples of rare hand-painted wallpaper dating back to 1720, which was nailed to the walls.
They also found letters which had been lost behind its wood panelling, dating back to the 1840s, when Angelia Peckover wrote requesting the doctor attend her “squeamish” father and her cook, who had been taken pale.
Upstairs the house sleeps 10 in a mix of single, twin and double rooms. A cellar houses a games room and opens onto the garden.
The property can be rented for around £900 a week, depending on time of year.
For further details go to www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk.
Wainman House found itself at the centre of a riot in 1913.
Angry townsfolk took to the streets after a popular doctor, who looked after the town’s poor, committed suicide.
Horace Dimock had been arrested on Friday, October 24, on suspicion of sending poison pen letters to the great and good of Wisbech about a Dr Meacock, claiming he had got one of his young nurses into trouble.
After his release two days later, Dr Dimock rode on his motorcycle to his mother’s house at Stretham, where he took an overdose.
As news spread the following week, a public meeting was called and thousands gathered on the nearby Market Square.
Hundreds stormed round to the Brink, demanding Dr Meacock appear. Cobbles were thrown, smashing his windows.
The police dispersed the crowd, which turned on another doctor’s house in the nearby Crescent, before returning to lay siege to Dr Meacock’s house, in what became known as the Riot of the Doctors.
At midnight, the town’s Mayor read the Riot Act and the police charged with batons.
“Not within the history of Wisbech have such riotous scenes been witnessed which occurred in the borough late last night and in the early hours of this morning,” reported the following week’s Wisbech Standard.
Decorators restoring the house found signed graffiti left by a tradesman inside one of the window frames, saying: “After riot, Nov 1913.”