Peake's House

Colchester, Essex

About this Landmark

Originally three cottages at the centre of Colchester's cloth trade, the long mullioned windows were designed to give light to the weavers at their looms. It is a snug retreat from which you can explore the historic town surrounding you.

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • MicrowaveMicrowave

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

  • Sleeps 4
  • 4 nights from £238
  • equivalent to £14.88 per person, per night

Dutch Quarter

Peake’s House stands in the Dutch Quarter, north of the High Street, which has retained its old layout as well as many of its older houses, making its atmospheric streets a delight to wander. Here Flemish weavers settled in the 1570s, driven into exile by religious persecution.

The satisfying, late-Elizabethan interiors of this merchant’s house provide a particularly atmospheric existence within its walls. Workmanly, evenly set wall timbers inside and out give the house its character. The interiors of Peake’s House have barely changed since those weavers made themselves a prosperous new life. 

A town of superlatives

Colchester deals in superlatives – the oldest recorded town, the earliest Roman colony, the largest Norman castle, the finest oysters. It offers much else besides, a thriving market town (on some evenings, even a little too lively) with a long and visible history, on the southern edge of East Anglia. You are not so far from the bird sanctuaries of the Essex estuaries, and some fine examples of the chain of Martello towers built to exclude Naploleon.

Floor Plans

‘These ancient timber houses seem to have a voice.’

‘Marvellous creaky old galleon of a house.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Peake’s House stands in the Dutch Quarter, north of the High Street, in the vibrant and thriving historic market town of Colchester.

There is plenty to explore both within Colchester and nearby. For garden lovers, Castle Park and the inspirational Beth Chatto Gardens are a must-see. 

Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe, and one of the most important heritage sites in England. 

Peake's House itself is located in Colchester's Dutch Quarter, where Flemish weavers settled and created a wool industry for the town. 

Layer Marney Tower is under 30 minutes drive from Colchester. Dating from the reign of Henry VIII, Layer Marney Tower is a most impressive building set in stunning countryside. 

Please see our Pinterest Page for more information on things to see and do during your stay at Peake's House. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Peake's House
Colchester, Essex
Clear directions

‘These ancient timber houses seem to have a voice.’

‘Marvellous creaky old galleon of a house.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a driveway off the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Colchester – 1 mile.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There are two parking spaces inside the fenced yard adjacent to the property. 
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central heating and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath and an additional wc.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep.
  • Is there higher than expected background noise?

    Yes, Peake's House is in a town and you may experience a level of noise associated with an urban location.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an enclosed garden.

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A long and complex history

The house that is now called Peake’s House is named after the generous neighbour who bought it when it was in dire need of rescue, and gave it to the Colchester Borough Council. But it has a long and complex history. You approach it now along a street that in the late 14th century was called Calayse Street; by 1692 it was Bear Lane (from an inn on the corner of the High Street), and by 1748 it was St Martin’s Lane. It seems to have become East Stockwell Street by 1841: the Stock Well was a notable watering place for cattle, horses and sheep.

At one time the site on which Peake’s House stands held three houses: 30, 31 and 32 East Stockwell Street. Of the three, 31 and 32 were a single dwelling, an early hall house. Number 32, built in the late 14th century, was the oldest part: this house contained the service area and the screens passage to the hall, which stood on the site of 31 (where the drawing room and main bedroom are now). The service area comprised a buttery and pantry, where wet and dry foods were stored. The cooking was done either in the hall or in a detached kitchen in the back yard. In the 15th century a west wing, containing a parlour, was added behind 32, and to the north of it a small wing was built in the 17th century, for use either as a new hall or perhaps as an attached kitchen. Later on, this wing was extended to form an extra room. With the extensions, 31 and 32 formed a three-sided building surrounding what is now our garden. (Now, however, the whole of 32 has disappeared, demolished in 1935 and replaced by our car parking space.)

The hall on the site of 31 was rebuilt, or remodelled, in about 1550, and was converted into the present three-storied house, with the hall replaced by the present sitting room and bedroom. This may have been a new parlour block, but it seems more likely that the building became a separate entity used as a shop or commercial premises with living and sleeping quarters above. It may have been at this time that 31 and 32 became separate houses, and if they were separately owned the businessman’s (or shopkeeper’s) family would have needed extra accommodation upstairs. If our main bedroom was their living room, this may explain the generously sized fireplace, with its stylised plaster flower.

Next door, another separate house – our number 30 – had already been put up, possibly by the same craftsmen that built the hall house, in about 1500 or soon afterwards; it seems to have been linked to 31 by new brickwork in the early 17th century, when the chimney stack was built. This is the house that now contains our front door, together with the kitchen, bathroom and twin bedroom. It also has a large cellar with a generous ceiling height, making it a useful working space below ground. This would not have been necessary for structural purposes (many such houses were built straight on to the ground with a brick plinth only a few courses high). Perhaps it was used for manufacturing whatever was sold on the floor above: to use a cellar in this way not only saved ground space but also provided security for stocks and tools.

The three houses seem to have changed very little until the early 20th century. In 1903 Mr J Burnby opened a general store in what is now our kitchen; the family later bought the freehold. In 1928, 31 and 32 were sold, possibly to Mr W. Peake, who carried on a successful business at 36 East Stockwell Street which eventually expanded into a fair-sized factory. By now all three houses were in poor condition, however, and in 1935 number 32 was pulled down, probably in the belief that it was past saving. But the tide was turning: the Colchester Civic Society was now starting to restore some of the timber-framed houses, including Peake’s House (then called The Old House). In1946 Mr Peake made a generous gift of it to the Borough Council, specifying that it was to be used for social and cultural purposes only.

A period of decline

Mr Peake died in 1957. In the same year Peake’s House was let to the Colchester branch of the Red Cross, and there they stayed until fire officers pointed out that the house was, from the fire safety point of view, unsuitable as a venue for classes consisting of a number of people. Of necessity they moved out (into a house further up East Stockwell Street), and the Borough Council were faced with the need to find a new use for the house that would respect the terms of Mr Peake’s stipulation that it was to be used for social and cultural purposes only. In 1994 the Council decided that, in spite of Mr Peake’s wishes, it would have to be sold.

Very fortunately, the story of Peake’s House came to the notice of Mrs M.J. March. Mrs March was an old friend of the Landmark Trust, and indeed had herself stayed in many Landmarks; she wrote to the Trust suggesting that this was a building that needed their attention. A suggestion was put to the Council that they should allow Landmark a 99-year lease on the property, while retaining the freehold, and this was agreed early in 1995. With generous financial help from the Council, Peake’s House was repaired and restored during the following summer under the direction of Peregrine Bryant and David Hopps of Peregrine Bryant Architects, with the building work carried out by Tendring Construction of Wix.

Unusually for a Landmark, only relatively minor works were needed to make Peake’s House ready for letting. In one corner of the lower bedroom there were signs of movement, so a new metal strap was fitted to secure the tie beam to the wall plate. An existing tie was supposed to hold the front of the building to the back, but was useless because at some time it had been cut; the engineer Richard Gray found a way of modifying the design to make it do its job as originally intended. The floor level in the sitting room was raised, so that one might see out of the windows. The main bedroom was open to the roof, and it was decided that the ceiling should be put back. A new kitchen was made in the old dining room, and the bathroom and the W.C. were combined, providing new airing and storage cupboards. The wiring and heating systems were renewed, and new insulation put in wherever possible.

The blacksmith made new iron hand rails for the main staircase and on the new steps up to the sitting room, as well as curtain rods with upturned ends (Landmark’s favoured design) for the windows. Damaged plaster was patched with haired lime plaster, and limewash tinted with umber and yellow ochre was applied to the walls. Some new floorboards were provided in the sitting room, and new quarry tiles were laid in the back quarters. Dutch tiles were commissioned for the kitchen; in one of these, two ladies are sitting among large piles of wool – a reference to the cloth trade that brought prosperity to Colchester in the Middle Ages; perhaps one is a 'parter', whose job it was to separate the finer wool from the coarser, while the other is holding what might be a spindle, so may be spinning.

Within less than six months from the start of its restoration, Peake’s House was fully repaired and furnished, and it opened its doors to its first visitors in November 1995. Ever since, except for one week annually when the Borough Council opens the house to the public, Landmarkers have been able to take it for a short or long stay at any time of the year. It is an exceptional experience to spend the day exploring the city of Colchester, and then enjoy the pleasures of returning to your own medieval home at its heart.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.