HISTORY

In 1893 Akay Estate was bought by local chemist and druggist, Charles Edward Taylor. Mr Taylor and his family moved in to the Mansion House but soon decided it wasn’t large enough. In around 1901 work began on the new house which was twice the size of the previous building. The new Akay House included 8 household bedrooms and 5 servants’ bedroom as well as 5 reception rooms and a large domestic department for the servants to work in.

Pepperpot is thought to have been built as an isolation house for Mr Taylor’s daughter. Anne developed Tuberculosis at the age of 18 and rather than send his daughter away to live in a sanatorium Mr Taylor built Pepperpot. This allowed Anne to live close to her family without contaminating them. In the early part of the twentieth century it was believed that sunlight killed tuberculosis bacteria and that treatment should include living somewhere light and airy. This led to anti-tuberculosis slogans such as ‘Always sleep with the window open’ and to sanatoriums offering outdoor sleeping areas and windows that could open in several directions to allow flow of air. Unfortunately even with this fresh air treatment 50% of those who entered sanatoriums in the early 20th century were dead within 5 years. Anne is thoughts to have survived with three years before dying at the age of 21.

After Mr Taylor’s death in 1924 the family put the house and contents up for sale. Although selling the contents proved successful the house was not sold and remained empty for over a decade. In 1936 the Governors of Sedbergh School bought the estate for £2,700 after suggestions that it could be used as accommodation for the Headmaster or to replace Lupton House, one of the boarding houses. These plans did not come to fruition and in 1938 Akay House was sold for demolition. Every part of the house was sold at auction including the staircase, oak panelling, stonework and a wrought iron weather vane.

Pepperpot and the Akay estate continued to be used after the Taylor family left. In the 1930’s a playing field on the estate was used by the Town Cricket Club and the Games Club. During WW2 the gardens were cultivated by the boys and staff of Sedbergh School and used to keep the boarding houses supplied with vegetables through the winter. The games fields were used by Sedbergh School from as early as 1937 and continue to be used today.

The last resident of Pepperpot is thought to have been E.G. MacPherson, a master at the Preparatory School Sedbergh who lodged in the house during the summer months of 1931. The sale documents from 1936 record that the annual rent for Pepperpot, known only as the Summerhouse, was £2. The building fell in to disuse sometime after this. In 1948 a cow grazing in the field forced its way in to the building and up the spiral staircase. It took five men with ropes to get the cow down the stairs. The owners, Sedbergh School, removed the stairs and upper floor to prevent other animals getting stuck.

In 2015 grants were awarded by Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore Pepperpot for use by the local community.