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.
Thomas Alderson Cooke was born in Salford and moved to Peterborough where he became a local magistrate, Sherriff of Northamptonshire and later High Sherriff.
He married Julia Image, the daughter of the late vicar of St John's church John Image and had 10 surviving children. He had 4 wives in total, including a very public annulment of the marriage to his second wife Charlotte Squires, who was many years younger than him.
He is best known for commissioning a large mansion on Priestgate in 1816, on top of Neville Place, which is now home to Peterborough Museum and the Dower House on the corner of Trinity Street, which was built in the 1840s for his fourth wife upon his death. It was a church for some years and is currently a nursery.
He was a magistrate for many years and continued to preside until the week before he died, despite being incapacitated. He died in December 1854, after which his house was bought by the Fitzwilliams in an auction and gifted to the city as an infirmary.
The Georgian building known as Priestgate Mansion, which now houses Peterbo…
Thomas Alderson Cooke was born in Salford and moved to Peterborough where h…