Rare find at Peckover House

Ben Rickett of Peckover House with the rare Spelling Box
Ben Rickett of Peckover House with the rare Spelling Box

WHEN you clean out your cupboards, you may expect to find a few half forgotten items hidden away, but you wouldn’t normally hope to find a rare and fascinating 18th Century box game.

However, this is what happened recently at National Trust’s Peckover House in Wisbech while a routine inventory check was being carried out.

Looking through a rarely used storage cupboard, volunteers discovered a Spelling Box, a letters and numbers educational toy which was created in 1780 by author Ellenor Fenn.

The inventory check was being carried out by Peckover House volunteers and members of National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) when the discovery was made.

A check of records showed that the existence of the box had been previously recorded, but its historical value and rarity has only now been realised.

Ben Rickett, house manager, said, “It turns out it is one of only five known Spelling Boxes in the country, which makes it a very exciting find. It also appears to be quite a complete example in very good condition.”

A new exhibit is being set up in Peckover House from Monday, so visitors will have the chance to look at this rare and early spelling game. The house is open from 1pm to 5pm, Saturday to Wednesday, with last admission to the house at 4.30pm.