for People with a Passion for Period Property
Period Property of the Month - February 2006
Originally an old parish poorhouse, this unusual Grade II Listed building built in 1744, is now a colourful family home filled with Folk-style character and charm.
From rags to riches
This former poorhouse was built by Winster Church in 1744 for the children of the sick and the poor - the first occupants being nine children and two keepers.


The wide stone fireplace came out of a house in the next village and displays solid brass candles from the Middle East. The array of textiles make the sitting room a great place to relax.George and Joan Peck were already living in Winster, a beautiful village in the Peak District National Park, when George took a particular liking to a derelict building that had been unoccupied for many years. "He fell in love with the exterior of the house, with its unusual arch windows, and when it came up for auction they bought it for just under £40,000," explains daughter Kirsty, who now lives there herself.

It took two years of hard work and commitment before the house was liveable and George and Joan finally moved into The Old Parish Poorhouse in 1991. The whole interior needed a complete renovation, and as a civil engineer and a skilled carpenter, George was able to save money by completing most of the building and woodwork himself. One of the major jobs was remodelling the upstairs layout and he was able to keep the character of the rooms by reusing many of the wooden panels that had formed the original walls.

George also replaced the staircase, created new doorways and re-laid the original quarry tile floors. But when it came to electrics and window renovation he turned to the professionals. Once all the major work was complete Joan was able to turn her hand to the décor with the help of Kirsty. "We wanted it to be warm and friendly, but intriguing, keeping as much of the feel of the original house as possible, whilst bringing it into the 21st century," she says. Joan and daughter Kirsty's love of travelling and history is very evident in the house, which is full of items from the Middle East, salvage yards and Kirsty and Andy's shop, DesignGate. All the objects have their own story which helps to bring the house to life.

Kirsty has brought new life to her Grandmother's old dresser which now sits at the foot of the bed.Golden tones have been used in the lounge, a cosy room adjacent to a bedroom which was originally the chicken loft. Here Kirsty has mixed the warm wall colour with the ethnic colours of the Middle Eastern rocking chair and footstool.

Kirsty loves the cosiness of the kitchen too, which has been given an American Folk Art feel with the use of quirky paint effects on the cupboards which George made from pallets.

The shallow sink is particularly unusual. "It was originally in the breakfast room and had an old pump that pumped the water from outside," laughs Kirsty. The former kitchen is now a cheerful breakfast room, "It's a bright room that gets lots of sunshine and is more like a garden room," enthuses Kirsty. The dried flowers over the old range and the crisp white tablecloth give the room a country farmhouse feel.

The relaxing sitting room is the most Middle Eastern room, influenced from the family spending 13 years in Bahrain. Joan and Kirsty love bright colours and have used a sky blue colour wash on the walls with a decorative stamp design in navy and gold. An opulent feeling has been created by mixing rich ochre velvet curtains with Turkish cushions from Camden market. An ornate chest of drawers in Pakistani Rosewood inlaid with brass, which matches the writing bureau, adds to the glorious theme. Lighter colours have been used in the upstairs bedrooms, although they haven't escaped the signature colour-washed walls.

In the lavender room, Kirsty's handmade denim cushions dress the Edwardian bed with its American patchwork quilt, which all sit beneath the DesignGate clock. Their work is also evident in the main bedroom with the rustic timber mirror and chunky bedside lamps, set against a soft green backdrop. Kirsty has also used her painting skills on her great grandmother's dresser which sits at the foot of the bed.

A honeymoon trip to Cornwall was the inspiration behind 18-month-old Jake's more contemporary seaside room. A sky scene with a bright sun and big white clouds add a touch of fun. A more grand approach was taken in the small bathroom, where Joan has used bold drapes to frame the reclaimed bath. She has also created a striking picture by surrounding an image of a woman bathing in a frame made of reclaimed Victorian tiles. George and Joan have worked hard to renovate a property of historical significance that is a beautiful home that their daughter is now able to enjoy with her family, "It's been a great opportunity and we're so excited to be living in a house so full of character," smiles Kirsty.