News of what’s been happening around the Pekes estate. The most recent items are at the top, and you can click and enlarge most of the images.
Thanks to our friend Hugh, a nature lover who lives deep in a wood, we now have our new Oak Arch on the steps leading down to our Ceremonies lawn.
It’s made entirely of recovered oak, most of it from the forest floor, and when covered with roses we hope it will make a glorious entrance towards our Gazebo.
The Great Chiddingly Bonfire Party
About 750 people processed with music and drumbeats from the centre of Chiddingley village to Pekes bearing lighted torches and with many wearing their long striped marinière traditional jerseys. A gigantic bonfire was lit in Pekes Park, followed by a truly spectacular fireworks display. For once it didn’t rain.
The event was organised by Chiddingly’s own Bonfire Society. Bonfire Societies are a great and long tradition over the whole area, with a history going back to the outrageous burning of 17 Protestant martyrs in 1555/57 in Lewes under Bloody Mary, and augmented by the memories of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. Often effigies are burned, but they no longer resemble religious or royal figures.
Pekes guests got to see it from high up on our Ceremonies lawn – a night to remember!
The video is nearly half an hour long. If you wish to skip to the best bits, then the procession enters Pekes Park at around 12’30, and the amazing fireworks display begins at 15’40.
November 25th 2023
Pekes Manor house is ancient and ‘timbery’ with lots of mysterious corners, one or two creaking floorboards and the odd cobweb, and was famous in the past for its spooky Halloween weekend parties given by Eva and her husband Doug.
We have not continued that tradition, but our guests come and do their own celebrations. The title picture to this News item shows this year’s guest party complete with pumpkins and willingly-impressionable children.
November 1st 2023
The Oak, a kinetic wind sculpture, was recently installed outside the Manor House kitchen at Pekes. It moves in the slightest breeze and is mesmerising.
It also reflects flashes of sunlight and moonlight as it revolves. Children have been using the hole in the middle for toy storage.
(The video has no sound)
October 27th 2023
A Super Group
We have had weddings and big parties at Pekes all through this Summer of 2023, each one memorable in its own way.
One that stood out for us was Amy’s group who took three of our houses in mid-August to celebrate her husband Mark’s 50th. They then wrote a lovely Review:
“A super stay for a 50th BD weekend
Pekes Houses is a beautiful indulgent retreat and perfect for large group celebrations. We hired the Manor House, Wing and Mounts View for a 50th birthday celebration with friends. The grounds and facilities were perfect for group games or to find space to relax within a group or alone if needed. Lots of fridge space (multiple fridges and freezers) and plenty of glassware/crockery etc. to manage our group of 36 people. All the beds were very cosy and comfy with no complaints from any of our guests.
Communication with Kildare was brilliant in terms of responsiveness and flexibility. We ordered a food delivery and had external caterers also which was seamless.
Feedback from our guests was extremely complimentary and all felt Pekes is a very special place to come together. Thank you.”
We really do love it when people have so much enjoyment together at Pekes.
August 29th 2023
These four quite humble but interesting Pekes-related pots have recently emerged from storage.
Three of them, dated 1911, are named for Terence Bourke (the patriarch-founder of modern Pekes) and his daughters Jasmine and Myrtle Bourke. They were made at the Dicker Pottery about a mile from Pekes, well-known for its ‘Dicker Ware’ in its day.
The fourth commemorates an election victory by Terence’s brother-in-law. Eva Bourke married Windham Wyndham-Quin (afterwards Earl of Dunraven) in 1885, and in 1895 he stood for the Conservatives in South Glamorgan, capturing the seat from the Liberals with a swing of over 9%. He was re-elected in 1900 while absent at the 2nd Boer War, but lost it in 1906.
On the reverse is written Undeb Dros Byth – Welsh for the ‘Union Forever’. It was made at the celebrated multi-generational Jenkins Ewenny pottery near Bridgend. All four pots are now back in the house.
August 21st 2023
Pekes to host a massive Bonfire Party
The Chiddingly Parish Bonfire Society have chosen Pekes Park for their annual bonfire party. November 25th 2023 is the date.
This is a huge affair, with torch-lit processions, singing, fun, a large bonfire and wonderful fireworks. It continues a 100-year old tradition, and involves very many people in the parish and beyond.
This whole area is famous for its bonfires, centred on nearby Lewes which has seven bonfire societies with the tradition going back hundreds of years. So, if you want to come and stay at Pekes that weekend and join in, you can – we have houses still available to book; just go to Availability.
July 20th 2023
Andi Oliver Celebrates
“Best weekend of my life!!!! Thank you @pekesmanor”
Andi Oliver, celebrity TV chef (Great British Menu, etc.), musician, best-selling author (currently The Pepperpot Diaries – see image link left), celebrated her 60th in style at Pekes recently with a BIG party spread over three days. There was a lot of cooking (including by Michelin starred chef and restaurant owner Tom Kerridge – think The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, the only British pub with two Michelin stars), music and laughter, and lots of notable family and friends like Andi’s daughter Miquita (the British TV presenter and radio host), and Davina McCall who seems to be everywhere.
Everyone left tired but happy, and many said it was the best party they had ever been to, which was great.
June 26th 2023
Coronation 1953 – 2023
This tapestry commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 70 years ago, was recently found in the attic at Pekes. It was made by Jasmine Haydn Morris (nee Bourke) who was the chatelaine of Pekes from 1924 to 1964; her daughter Eva, who took over from her, died only last year.
No Welsh daffodils but spot the four tiny Welsh leeks! It is beautifully done, and so we’re going to frame it and hang it up in the house, and hope it doesn’t fade.
May 6th 2023
Our beautiful old Pear Tree is in full bloom. This lovely tree, the only remnant of the ancient orchards at Pekes and therefore probably well over 100 years old, has exploded into blossom as early Spring has arrived, a boon to the pollinators that are already around.
It’s not the oldest tree here. We have many oaks that are hundreds of years old, and a few really ancient ones.
Pekes Swimming Pool
This Spring 2023 we have given the Pool a complete make-over. Most importantly, we have completely replaced the roof with huge fibreglass sheets, and one of several benefits is that it is much lighter and more sparkly in there now. Then we brought in a new mains feed, and replaced all the ‘back office’ wiring and control elements. We also replaced the inside and outside lighting and all of this, together with the natural salt water chlorinator introduced a few years ago, has completely rejuvenated the pool.
The next thing will be to see whether we can heat it with renewables — probably a bigger challenge. Dive in!
Eva Haydn Morris
It’s with great sadness that we record the passing of Eva Haydn Morris, owner and chatelaine of Pekes for nearly 60 years.
Eva was born in her mother Jasmine’s first-floor bedroom on March 5th 1931, and Pekes was at the centre of her life for more than 90 years. Until after WW2 Pekes had its own home farm with milking herd, and she went to Agricultural College with the object of taking over the farm. However that was not to be, and she went to London, and managed to buy her own flat there, eventually founding an artists’ representation agency, still always coming to Pekes very frequently.
On the death of her mother in 1964 she inherited Pekes, and gradually transformed it into the hospitality venue that is there today, assisted by her husband Doug Fitzmaurice. In the early years guests came for a week or two at a time, but as things changed, so she added more and better facilities, particularly with a view to hosting guests who wanted to get away for short breaks to have a change, relax, unwind, celebrate and breathe country air.
She was a very engaging person, always really interested in her guests, always generous in her hospitality, and her Pekes parties were legendary. She and Doug were particularly keen on Halloween parties, which Pekes is really suited to. She loved the arts, and specially opera, and would go to Glyndebourne several times a year; she even had a Glyndebourne week each year, with wonderful picnics.
She also loved country life, and was very knowledgeable about growing flowers and vegetables, and took a very active part in village life.
She had no children and no very close relatives, so Pekes management has been taken over by cousins. Whatever we do there we will always hopefully have in mind what she would have liked and approved of.
Eva died peacefully in London on 13th August 2022, and is buried with Doug in Chidingly cemetery.
Pekes continues, and her presence is everywhere.
The Curse of Humpty Dumpty
Yet another feature film is being shot at Pekes – in which, after she is told she has dementia, Wendy begins to question a mysterious doll and it’s deadly intentions.
The film is being directed by Scott Jeffrey, who has produced some fourteen Feature Films in the last three years, including Unhinged (2017), Fox Trap (2018) and Suicide Club (2018).
Again you’ll have to see it to find out what happens to her.
Beneath the Surface
Another feature film has been shot at Pekes, this time with the most dramatic action taking place in the Pool.
“After surviving a tragic shark attack, Lexy (played by Georgie Banks) must discover the truth about who left her in the ocean”
You’ll have to see it to find out what happens!
A Day + A Night Wedding package now at Pekes
Pekes now offers happy couples the opportunity to be legally married in the Dining Room or outdoor Gazebo at Pekes, entertain their family and friends for 12 hours and then drift off into the undisturbed privacy of the elegant next-door Edwardian Wing for the night. They can even have their favourite people staying overnight in the Manor House first floor, and say their farewells in the morning after a hearty breakfast.
Available on many Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays throughout the year.
Exclusive use – lovely old house – beautiful countryside – licensed ceremony inside or out – your own catering – music & dancing – stay the night – very reasonable prices – No corkage or extras either!
Small Weddings at Pekes
Small weddings are now beautiful! Pekes’ historic Dining Room is licensed as a wedding venue and can be set out for lovely smaller marriages and civil partnerships, for all those couples who want to tie the knot and celebrate in intimate style.
Christmas Comes Early to Pekes
The ladies from our Pekes Team have started celebrating Christmas a little early this year …
December 1st 2020
Celebrating 30 years at Pekes
Elaine was effectively the first member of our Pekes Team when she joined us in November 1990 and we are all very pleased and proud that she’s still with us, pretty much the heart and soul of everything that goes on.
She has rolled with all the many changes and developments that have happened over these years, has met and chatted with many of our Guests, and is the first person we look out for if we need cheering up.
Thank you Elaine so much. Here’s to the next 30! November 2020
The Rule of Six
From Monday September 14, no more than 6 people at a time are allowed to stay in our Manor House, Oast House or Mounts View.
For the whole period that this new legislation is active, we are offering existing and new Guests a huge 40% discount on our prices for them to book and stay in those three houses with a party of up to 6 people.
Come and enjoy the autumn at Pekes at a wonderful price. Email email@example.com or call Kildare on 07776-298-405 and it will be arranged for you. September 2020
A delightful young Guest
In these very difficult times, we thought we’d like to share this lovely card left for us in Tudor View by Eliana and her mum. Heart-warming.
Completion of Pekes Ceremony Lawn
Too much rain this Spring, too little rain this Summer! Anyway the final 650 square metres of fine turf eventually got laid , and here is the excellent Pekes ‘gang’ that did it.
Now all we need is for the government to allow us to have ceremonies on it. The peaceful view out there is fantastic. September 2020
Pekes has re-opened after a 3-month ‘sleep-in’. All of our facilities are up and running again, and we are due to welcome many Guests over the summer and autumn. So, now’s the time to book if you would like a lovely holiday in the glorious East Sussex countryside … with the Downs, the sea and the fun-filled coastal towns all nearby.
We are taking huge care to comply with all government and sector regulations, including guidance on cleaning, disinfecting and distancing. We believe that Pekes is as safe an environment to come and stay in as you can find.
Come and breathe in the country air, enjoy the gardens, walk along the country lanes and footpaths and have a BBQ at your house in total peace and privacy. July 2020
Following the Government’s announcement of a nationwide lock-down, Pekes closed for three months, from April through to July. We re-opened as soon as we were allowed to, and confirmed re-opening dates here on the website.
Guests with bookings at Pekes were able to discuss their plans with us, and to reschedule their stay or event until a later date. April 2020
Landed Houses, the website dedicated to finding the right country estate for those seeking the perfect wedding venue or rural retreat, has given Pekes its House of the Year Gold Award for 2020.
Of course we are very pleased and very proud … now we just have to live up to it! 11th April 2020
Set out overlooking the timeless Wealden landscape with a long flat stone walkway leading to it from near the house, the new Ceremony Gazebo is both romantic and formal. It’s the perfect setting for whatever Ceremony or Celebration our Guests wish to have there. The Gazebo, like our Dining Room, is Licensed for Civil Ceremonies (marriages and civil partnerships). 6th April 2020
The first Licensed Wedding Ceremony to take place in our historic Dining Room was performed on 20th September 2019, when Helen & John tied the knot. It was a very special day at Pekes. 21st October 2019
HMS Powerful Back on Station
Some of the teak timbers from HMS Powerful, one of the Royal Navy’s front-line cruisers towards the end of the 19th Century, were made into garden seats in the late 1920s.
One was brought to Pekes by Eva’s father in c.1929, but was recently found to be quite badly rotted. However, we’ve had the seat beautifully restored, and it is once again in the garden. 25th August 2019
Pekes Pool Goes Salty … Naturally
We have installed a new pure salt-water chlorinator instead of chemicals to chlorinate our Pool. The water is slightly salty, feels a lot nicer and is much better for guests and the environment. 19 August 2019
After many years of hosting wonderful Wedding Celebrations, Pekes is now an Approved Premises for Licensed Ceremonies in our Tudor Dining Room. We have more Wedding plans for 2020. 6th August 2019
The Old Barn – First Steps
About 400 years old, the barn has been decaying since the end of WW2.
As a first step towards major restoration, we have removed all the roof tiles, so now it’s gaunt but rather evocative. 28th July 2019
Amy joins the Pekes Team
Just when we needed someone to come and look after our Weddings & Celebration events, we met Amy. Very experienced, very efficient and lives in Hellingly, almost next door! Perfect.
Come to the National Wedding Show, Olympia, September 20-22 2019, & meet her there. 18th May 2019
We Make The Space
We have made a big open space out of part of our Forestall Field, next to the Oast House.
With steps leading up to it from the Wing, The Space is perfect for almost anything – marquees, cricket, children’s games, races, extra parking, whatever. 11th March 2019
Pekes is almost famous for its urns, pots, tubs and baskets in full flower, all spring and all summer, but our flower beds had started to look a bit neglected.
So, we have started re-creating them, with the help of two excellent garden experts; Tracy & Laurie. More in 2020. 21st January 2019
Christmas at Pekes
Christmas is always a lovely time at Pekes. We decorate the houses for our guests, and with a wonderful turkey farm next door, and locally-grown Christmas trees, all is well set for a joyful season. 7th December 2018