Three Peeks and Me

Jones_on_Peeks_sm Three Peeks and me

Sir Francis, Sir William, Sir Richard

By Graham Jones
   It was a pleasure to read in the 2017 OH Magazine about Sir Francis’ visit to Rousdon in the 90s; it has prompted me to put on record an earlier visit he made, and visits made by his cousin William, who inherited the baronetcy, and Sir Richard Peek. When St Pancras Church, Rousdon, closed in 1969 the rector and school chaplain, Rev Christopher Leech, arranged for Sir Francis and his cousin William (from Loddiswell in south Devon) to come to discuss the re-siting of the memorials on the walls of the church. As many know these were re-sited in the school chapel below the hall, and there was discussion about the pulpit, organ and other furnishings. At that time I was secretary of the Church Council.    The visit must have been in January 1970 as Sir Francis expressed interest afterwards in a short tour of the mansion. Any doubts I might have had about what state the building might be in disappeared as the premises were that very day being decorated for the annual hunt ball. He commented that headmaster’s study had been his school room. Afterwards I felt it only polite to offer a cup of tea at Home Farm – which gave Mary, who was already somewhat involved in preparing for the ball, a bit of a shock! Another reminiscence is that “bog standard tea bags” were hardly fitting to be served to such renowned importers as his family.    Some while after Sir William inherited, the Rousdon astronomer’s great great grandson, Jerry Grover, invited him and his wife, and myself, to visit the mansion. Jerry was very committed to any possible research into his ancestor’s activities. After Charles Grover had gone to Australia in the late 19th century with Cuthbert Peek – in the hopes of seeing the transit of Venus – Sir Henry Peek appointed Grover to his post. In conversation Lady Peek told me that her husband was rather charmingly known locally in Loddiswell as “Cap’n Bill”.    Sir Richard Peek, in North Devon, inherited when his father William died. With assistance from the Meeke family I obtained his address and we invited Sir Richard and his wife to open one of the local history exhibitions staged by Nicky Campbell, ourselves and others in the Peek Hall – after the school had closed and the estate was redeveloping. They were delighted to come and be part of the proceedings. Sir Richard was most recently in touch with the Combpyne-Rousdon community when sending a message to the commemoration of the 100 years since the start of World War I.
An interview with Sir Richard Peek, great great grandson of the man who built Rousdon, is planned for the 2018 issue of the magazine

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