inscribed signed with initials and dated " Salcombe Hill / E.T.L. 96"
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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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.
Three Lousadas owned Peak House. Some significance of Peak House is attached to the fact that when Emanuel Baruh Lousada (#87) purchased the land on which Peak House was built, there was doubt as to whether or not Jews were officially debarred from owning land in England (see ref 65 according to which, by the end of the 1700s, success and wealth led to a migration from the crowded Jewish quarter of London around Duke's Place particularly to the west along the Thames Valley). Emanuel Baruh Lousada, doubtless inheriting the certainty of his kinsmen that they merited a high and respected place in whatever society they dwelt within, was a wealthy London financier who wished to establish his position in English society. He took a risk in buying in 1793 an initial 125 acres on the lower slopes of Peak Hill in the then remote and unfashionable Sidmouth, thereby becoming an early Jewish landholder in England. He also took steps to acquire the trappings of nobility, registering a coat of arms with the College of Heralds in 1777. Later the Lousada Dukes used an unofficial and hybrid form of the coat of arms. Sidmouth became fashionable over time. Some of us visited Sidmouth in 2011 and images from this are contained in John Bury's pictorial diary.
The Lousada family remained almost 100 years at Peak House, the estate however not passing from father to son due to both Emanuels (#87 and #142) being childless. John Baruh Lousada (#25) inherited it in 1854. He and his wife Tryphena Barrow (#26) were there at the time of the 1861 and 1871 censuses (extracts have been uploaded to key documents) but Peak House was sold in 1877 (see sale authorisation) when John was 72 and Tryphena was 69. John's sister Mary (#69) married John Bacon (#78), and the Bacon family has had a long association with Sidmouth (see the sketches and portraits by John Bacon's father #271). Sidmouth became for a while a social centre for the wider family; ref 122 records that Sidmouth was a favoured spot for Sir Moris and Lady Ximenes, as well as for Mr and Mrs David Lousada (a son of this David Lousada became a convert to Christianity and, as the Reverend Percy Martindale Lousada, married in 1848 Mary Eliza, the daughter of M. Gutteres of Sidmouth). There is a record on ancestry.com of a Lousada/Ximenes business partnership 1751-1775, based at New Broad Street in 1765. The eldest son Isaac (aged 17 at the time of the death of his father) of Moses Baruh Lousada married Sarah a daughter of Isaac the first Lousada Duke and they lived at Sidmouth for a period.
In this way, Peak House represents in small measure the achievement of Jews in gaining an increasing measure of acceptance in the West. Harry Ezratty (ref 25) recounts the achievement of the Jews in the Caribbean in attaining civil rights there. He notes the importance of the events of 1588; the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English, and the Dutch decision to extend diplomatic and military recognition to all Jews. The Spanish Empire was now vulnerable to Dutch and English maritime strength, and opened the possibility of significant commercial gain (especially at the expense of Spanish fortune) which the Portuguese Jews were well equipped to facilitate. 'At a time when Jews had no European citizenship, pirates and privateers could take Jews and their property for ransom without any official protest. The Dutch, then were the first European power to cloak Jews with this important government protection. The adventurous Sephardim understood the opportunities and the chance for freedom that could be forged in the New Lands. This dream impelled them to begin the first open migration of Jews to the New World...(to)....Dutch territories beginning with Recife in 1630....Spanish and Portuguese Jews were so widely known, their religion was no longer a secret in most places to which they traveled. Among international traders, they were called the "Portuguese Nation". Indeed in a sense they were a nation. They created and maintained an extensive network among themselves, which ran from Spain, Portugal and Europe to the Ottoman Empire and later to the Americas. They kept, through familial connections and business ties, their common Hispanic background, Marrano experience and of course their religion'. This commercial resource was attractive to the Dutch, as noted, and later to the English under Cromwell and then Charles 2, though in the case of the English a lack of a voting franchise and increasing special taxes were inequalities which lasted for a long period until the mid 1800s, the era when Peak House was built. From ref 47 p27, we learn that English Jews in the 1800s regarded as important a 1723 Act of Parliament which recognised them as British subjects, but the general public continued to regard them as aliens long after that date.