Curious Devon: a peek inside Peak House

PUBLISHED: 11:45 06 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 17 October 2019

A tour around Peak House. Picture: Alex Walton

A tour around Peak House. Picture: Alex Walton

Picture: Alex Walton

In our first in a series of features exploring the hidden treasures of Devon, we take a look around the Edwardian country estate of Peak House, in Sidmouth.

Peak House. The Lousada family outside the original building after renovation works in 1851. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. The Lousada family outside the original building after renovation works in 1851. Picture: Alex Walton

Situated on the slope of Peak Hill, to the western end of Sidmouth, is the Edwardian building known as Peak House.

This beautiful country house, which was rebuilt after a major fire destroyed the original building, was first occupied at the turn of the 20th century and is now split into four flats.

Peak House. The site of the original house, which burnt down in 1903. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. The site of the original house, which burnt down in 1903. Picture: Alex Walton

According to the Sid Vale Association's Blue Plaque guide book, the original house was built by Emmanuel Baruh Lousada, a 'wealthy and well-liked gentleman', who helped kick-start a rapid change for Sidmouth.

Peak House was the most influential property ever to be built in Sidmouth and was likely to be the reason for the development of the town.

Peak House. Workmen gather outside of the rebuilt house following a fire which destroyed the original house in 1903. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow familyPeak House. Workmen gather outside of the rebuilt house following a fire which destroyed the original house in 1903. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow family

Mr Lousada, being a man of standing, had many wealthy friends and family members who came to visit Sidmouth.

News of the beauty of the town and its charms spread far and wide among aristocratic circles with many people moving to the region to set up houses of their own.

Peak House. Workmen gather outside of the rebuilt house following a fire which destroyed the original house in 1903. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow familyPeak House. Workmen gather outside of the rebuilt house following a fire which destroyed the original house in 1903. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow family

Peak House, as it stands today, is a delightful property constructed of Beer stone and sited nearby to where the original dwelling existed, with a south-easterly view across the sea.

Many of the Georgian fittings, such as fireplaces and doors which survived the fire of the old building, were incorporated into the new build and remain in situ today.

Peak House as it looks today. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House as it looks today. Picture: Alex Walton

During World War I, the house was offered for use as a Red Cross Hospital by owner Sir Thomas Dewey.

Sir Thomas generously continued to pay the taxes, rates and electricity for the hospital, which opened in November 1916, with 53 beds divided between the three floors.

John Lousada, a one time squire of Peak House, drawn by John Bacon, who lived at Sidcliff. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow familyJohn Lousada, a one time squire of Peak House, drawn by John Bacon, who lived at Sidcliff. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow family

The Herald kindly thanks the Barlow family for access to the property.

More: further information about Emmanuel Lousada and the history surrounding Peak House can be found in the Sid Vale Association's 'A Guide to the Blue Plaques - Life & Times in Sidmouth'

Peak House. The house was used as a convalescent home during World War One. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow familyPeak House. The house was used as a convalescent home during World War One. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow family

Send us your stories: Curious Devon is a new series of features highlighting interesting and special places from around the region and the people who live and work there. If you know of a place or a person you would like us to feature then get in touch at alex.walton@archant.co.uk.

Peak House. A steamboat can be seen in this picture, which was taken before the road at Peak Hill was built. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow familyPeak House. A steamboat can be seen in this picture, which was taken before the road at Peak Hill was built. Picture: courtesy of the Barlow family

Peak House. The building is constructed from Beer stone. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. The building is constructed from Beer stone. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. A beautiful sundial can be found on the western side of the building. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. A beautiful sundial can be found on the western side of the building. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. View from the master bedroom. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. View from the master bedroom. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. Herald reporter, Clarissa Place, looks out at the view from the master bedroom. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. Herald reporter, Clarissa Place, looks out at the view from the master bedroom. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. View from the garden. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. View from the garden. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. One of the three bedrooms. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. One of the three bedrooms. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. The kitchen. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. The kitchen. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. The beautiful decor comprises of ornate chandaliers and elegant pillars Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. The beautiful decor comprises of ornate chandaliers and elegant pillars Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. View from the steps of the house. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. View from the steps of the house. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. The tennis court. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. The tennis court. Picture: Alex Walton

Peak House. Picture: Alex WaltonPeak House. Picture: Alex Walton

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