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Priestgate Mansion



The Georgian building known as Priestgate Mansion, which now houses Peterborough Museum was completed in 1816. It was created by wealthy magistrate Thomas Alderson Cooke, one of Peterborough’s most distinguished residents. The mansion was built on the site of the Tudor house known as Neville Place. It was built on top of the original building, which became the cellars of the new mansion. Some of the currently ground floor walls are possibly from the original house because of their enormous width. Priestgate mansion was originally built as a large symmetrical cube with an additional south-facing curved end. The curved end most likely contained a breakfast room to make the most of the rising sun on cold days and to enjoy the view down to the river Nene. The ground floor was designed for formal entertaining in the dining room and living room. On the first floor were the main bedrooms and on the top floor the nursery and servant rooms. There were not any bathrooms built in to the house originally, so portable water closets were used by people in the house.

A Museum for Peterborough



When the infirmary moved to the newly completed Memorial Hospital in 1928 the Infirmary building was acquired by Percy Malcolm Stewart. He was Chair of the London Brick Company, who donated it to the Museum Society to house their collection. At that time it was known as the Natural History, Scientific and Archaeological Society. It was opened in 1931, with the art gallery added in 1939. Everything has been owned by the Council since 1968, when the Museum Society gave them to the city. In May 2010, management of the building and its collections was taken over by Vivacity.


Peterborough Under Water

165 million years ago


Peterborough was much closer to the equator in Jurassic times and a shallow sea covered the area. Together with warmer global temperatures, the local climate would have felt as balmy as the Bahamas. In the 145 million years since the Jurassic Period, the continents have moved hundreds of miles. Ever since the Earth formed, the rocky plates on its surface have moved around very slowly, powered by the heat in the planet’s core. Today, the continents continue to move as they collide and separate very slowly. Peterborough’s Jurassic sea was packed with creatures of all sizes, from microsopic to monstrous. The small fish, ammonites and belemnites feasted on shoals of plankton. They in turn became food for larger creatures. At the top of the food chain were the large ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pliosaurs and crocodiles. The shallow sea supported a huge variety of fish of all sizes and shapes, adapted for life at different depths in the water. Near the surface, shoals of fast-swimming Caturus hunted smaller fish. The vast Leedsichthys – the biggest fish ever known – cruised harmelssly among them, gulping in water and filtering plankton to eat. When these creatures died they sank to the bottom of the sea where some of them became fossilised. Peterborough Museum houses a magnificent collect of these fossils.

Start of the Nene Park Story



Prior to the creation of Nene Park, there were very few recreational green spaces in Peterborough. In 1968, a year after the New Towns Act, the Peterborough Development Corporation was established and land from the Embankment in the city centre to Wansford, seven miles west, was purchased from landowners including Earl Fitzwilliam. Gravel extractors Amey Roadstone approached the Corporation and negotiations began to ensure that the resulting lakes were planned and landscaped carefully for the best possible visitor experience. Plans also included space for car parking, a water sports centre, a lake specifically for water sports and facilities including a café and shop.


Farmhouse to Beerhouse



The Bluebell Inn in Dogsthorpe is a grade II listed building on Welland Road. The reason for the listing is because of the dating stone which reads 'ITH  1665'. Originally built as a farmhouse, it became a public house early in the 19th century and has continued to be so for the last 200 years. The building has been extended and improved over the years and during one of the improvements a wooden panel was found with initials and the date 1594, suggesting that the building is older than the date stone, or that the panel had been salvaged from elsewhere and reused in the building. Picture credit: The Blue Bell, Dogsthorpe cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan -

Opening of the Lido



The Lido open air swimming pool first opened in 1936. A striking building with Art-Deco elements, it was designated a Grade II listed building in 1992. It was instantly popular when it opened and remained so throughout the 1950s and 1960s. However it hasn't always been plain sailing for the Lido, on the 8th of June 1940 it was hit by a bomb during an air raid and one corner was destroyed, though showing true wartime spirit it reopened on the same day! In 1989 it was threatened with closure to save money, but it survived and still opens from May to September.  

Tea in Werrington Tea Gardens



A pleasant Sunday afternoon could be spent by catching the tram to Walton, which was the end of the line, and walking up Lincoln Road to Rivendale in Werrington. In 1891 Richard William Parr and his wife Ann owned Alexandra House which had uninterrupted views down to the brook. In the gardens tea could be ordered.

The original house still  stands today in a road called Rivendale, on it’s side is a shop facing onto Lincoln Rd. Houses have been built along Lincoln Road on what were once the tea gardens.


Gordon Arms Celebrations



The Earl and Countess of Aboyne, also known as the Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly, or Charles and Marie Gordon, were owners of Orton Hall in the mid nineteenth century. They were so happy with the birth of a new daughter that they celebrated with the locals in the eponymous Gordon Arms Inn. On 16th January 1845 they held a ball and supper with dancing that continued until late, no doubt for the local gentry. The day after they treated '300 or upwards cottagers and peasantry' to cake, tea, beef and plum pudding, which would have been very welcome in the dark depths of winter. The Morning Post, Monday 27th January 1845, Page 5, Column 1-2

Opening of Peterborough’s Library



Though a free public library had been open in the city since 1893, it was realised that a purpose-built library was required. Negotiations occurred in August, 1903 between the Mayor, George Keeble JP, and Andrew Carnegie, the Scots-American steel magnate, millionaire and philanthropist, which resulted in the latter contributing the “handsome sum” of £6000 towards a new, central library. A newspaper report stated that the new library “will almost certainly be built on the ‘Stanley’ property.” This could be a reference to a piece of land owned by William Proctor Stanley, a local businessman. The new building on Broadway was opened on May 29th.1906 by Andrew Carnegie, who was later entertained to lunch by the Mayor, Thomas C Lamplugh JP in “the spacious upper room” of the library. Carnegie was also given the Freedom of the City of Peterborough; the first person to receive that particular honour. In turn, the 1906 library was superseded by the current premises which opened on July 2nd. 1990. References: Peterborough Standard, August 1903; Peterborough Standard, June 1906; Peterborough Advertiser, June 1906.

The First Auction at the Bull Hotel



Situated on Westgate, the Bull Hotel is the oldest existing inn or hotel in the city centre and is grade II listed. It is believed to have been built in the late 18th century and was known as the Bull Inn. There is, however, a chance that an older structure exists within the present building. The main entrance to the building was originally an entrance for coaches and carts. The entrance led into a courtyard where there was also stabling for horses. The building has been enlarged and improved over the years, so the courtyard is no longer there. A story exists of a dog who was run over in the courtyard and whose spirit never left the hotel. The earliest reference found relating to the Bull Inn in the Stamford Mercury is from 1775. There was an advert relating to the sale of land and buildings by Simon Hubbard by auctions. Auctions were common at the Bull and items included property, furniture and animals. They also held meals and meetings for the aristocracy and other events. Many celebrities have stayed at the hotel, including The Beatles. The most infamous was possibly Archdeacon Wakeford who visited in 1920. He was at the centre of a court case claiming he had stayed at the Bull Inn on two separate occasions with a woman who wasn't his wife and therefore leading an immoral life. He was found guilty, later failing in an appeal.
Stamford Mercury, 3rd August 1775, p3