Peckover House, built c1722, stands on the North Brink on the banks of the River Nene.
The two brinks, which follow the line of the river and face one another across its banks, are revered for their architectural quality, and the dramatic effect produced by the linear development of warehouses, public buildings and houses.
Peckover House, the most distinguished house on the Brinks, breaks the street line by being set back from the terraces to either side.
A Georgian Town House
For much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Wisbech was a bustling inland port with a population of c.5,000. Foreign tongues could be ehard on the vessels moored along the Nene, the tidal river which flows through the town. Ships ferried produce from the rich fertile fenlands, which the town lies amidst. They sailed to the ports of London, Hull and the continent. On their return voyage they brought back goods of all kinds; coal from the northern ports and silks and spices from London.
In the early eighteenth century the town began to grow spreading along the north bank or brink of the River Nene. Around 1720 labourers began to clear derelict farm buildings and cottages from North Brink in preparation for the construction of whta is now Peckover House.
Passers-by on the south bank of the river could see the red brick house rising out of the fields on the opposite bank. They would have caught a glimpse of the bricklayers working from their flimsy scaffolding of rope and timber poles. Conceivably the bricks they were laying were fired in kilns across the seas in Holland and brought to Wisbech in the holds of the port's trading vessels.
Following completion of the house a succession of families would live here until 1752 when it was purchased by Henry Southwell, a local dignitary. His family would own the house for the next 40 years. During this time the house would once more become a hive of activity. plasterers created an intricate Rococo ceiling within the staircase hall of the house. Carvers chiselled swags, bows and garlands to create a new chimney piece for the Southwell's Drawing Room.
The house was purchased by Jonathan Peckover after 1794 and the family continued to live there for the next 150 years, making their own alterations and developments.
Wings for the library and service areas
To the east and west of the main block of the house are curving single storey extensions, which house the library wing and the service areas and the remnants of the former bank building.
The Norwich architect Edward Boardman designed the wings in 1877-8 for Alexander Peckover as part of his extension and remodelling of the house to accommodate his extensive library and re-use the space vacated by the Peckovers' banking enterprise in 1878.