Peek Devon Estates

17 November 2008

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Although the Peek family had strong business interests in London and other parts of the country, they maintained their connections with Devon, and in particular the South Hams, for over 150 years. 


Hazelwood at Loddiswell near Kingsbridge was in the family for over one hundred and fifty years. The estate was bought by Richard Peek, second son of John Peek, in 1830. At that time the main estate residence was known as Halsenwood Villa, and John Peek was himself living there in 1832 when he received his grant of Arms.

It is not, however, clear when John Peek first took up residence at the villa. He was married at Loddiswell, his wife's parish, in 1779 and certainly came to live there shortly afterwards. His first four children were all born at Loddiswell between 1779 and 1787, but only Richard, who was to buy the Hazelwood estate nearly fifty years later after making his fortune in London, is stated to have been born (in October 1782) actually at Halsenwood Villa, the other three being born either in the village or at an outlying farm. John Peek's four youngest children, however, were all born at Dodbrook, part of Kingsbridge, or in Kingsbridge itself, between 1791 and 1800 and christened at the Independent Chapel at Kingsbridge. It was there, too, that John Peek's wife Susannah was buried; she died at Dodbrook in August 1802.

It would seem, therefore, that John Peek left Loddiswell for Kingsbridge around 1790, and it may have been many years before he returned to Loddiswell to take up residence at Halsenwood Villa. His son Richard, although born at Loddiswell, is known to have spent at least part of his youth at Kingsbridge before moving up to London in 1800 at the age of eighteen.

It is to Richard Peek that Hazelwood owes most of its development and present appearance. Although he bought the estate in 1830, he did not give up his partnership in Peek Brothers and Co. and his other interests in London until shortly after he had completed his year of office (1832/33) as High Sheriff of London and Middlesex.

After retiring to Loddiswell he devoted the rest of his life to the estate and to furthering charitable and religious causes in his native county. He was an ardent member of the Independent Body, or what is better known now as the Congregationalists, and erected a number of chapels and schools.

John Peek and many of his close relatives were buried in the grounds of Hazelwood, most of them in what are known as the Peek Catacombs. In nearby Loddiswell Church the pulpit was erected to the memory of Richard Peek, while the east window was presented by William Peek (1791-1870) as a memorial to their mother, Susannah Ann Peek, wife of John Peek of Hazelwood.



Rousdon, near Seaton in East Devon, was built for Sir Henry William Peek, Bart, by Sir Ernest George, R.A., P.R.I.B.A., the well-known Victorian architect. Sir Henry was Sir Ernest George's first important patron, and Rousdon was the first of a long series of great country houses built by the latter, who also built Southwark Bridge in London and many important public buildings. Among Sir Ernest's pupils was the even more famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who many years later designed and built Castle Drogo for Julius Drewe, whose mother was a first cousin of Sir Henry Peek.

Rousdon passed out of the possession of Sir Henry's family in 1938 and was, until recently, occupied by Allhallows School, which moved from Honiton, where it had been established for several centuries. Many members of Sir Henry Peek's family are buried in the churchyard at Rousdon and in the family vault. The church contains monuments to Sir Henry's father, James Peek, and his father-in-law, William Edgar.


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This site was last updated 17 November 2008